Searching for Grace

November 29, 2017

Recently, the truancy citation arrived in the mail at the home of Jayson Griffiths. Usually, receiving such a thing would cause tension in a home; but for the Griffith family, it served as a dreadful reminder of something every parent would call a nightmare—it was a slap in the face of the reality that Jayson’s teen daughter, Grace, was still missing.

Grace Griffiths has been missing since September 2, 2017. Her father and her mother, Theresa Walls of Beloit,WI, have been desperately awaiting to hear from their young daughter—terrified about her well-being, they have not been sitting idle while they wait. They have not only been searching areas where they think the girl may be, but they have also been

making noise while doing so as they, along with other family members, reach out to agencies across the state and share information about their daughter’s disappearance on social media.

It was one of those attempts of reaching out that The Messenger learned that one of our own in Juneau County was not only missing, but also listed on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website as well as Wisconsin’s Department of Justice’s Clearinghouse for Missing and Exploited Children; when in mid-November we saw her poster posted on a local Buy, Sell, Trade page on Facebook. It was from that post we were able to have contact with Grace’s loved ones and learn about their fears.

According to Jayson, Grace disappeared from his Mauston home in the middle of the night in early September. The exact time and circumstance is unknown. “Her brother saw her around 3 a.m and told her she better not be going anywhere,” stated Jayson. The reason for that comment was in the past, Grace was known to take off for a short period of time, but she always returned back home after a few days.

“This time it is different,” stated Jayson.

Prior to her disappearance, the company she had been keeping was with an adult male, 26- year-old Scott E. Rutter of Baraboo. Both parents stated they had forbidden the relationship. Rutter currently has an open bench warrant on an August 2017 disorderly conduct domestic violence case in Sauk County.

According to both Mauston Police Department and Baraboo Police, in the last couple of months, they have not been able to make contact with Rutter and would like to speak to him on Grace’s disappearance. “I don’t mind if you mention his name. Authorities would like to speak to him,” stated Mauston Chief of Police Mike Zilisch.

For her parents, Grace being with Rutter is just one of their worries—the rumors and tips since Grace’s departure are adding to their nightmares and have been troubling enough for her to be listed at missing and/or exploited—a designation not every runaway is granted.

According to a representative from the Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Missing and Exploited Children and Adults, Grace has been listed on the state and national sites since October 12, 2017. To be listed, authorities must believe there is the possibility of foul play in some shape or form.

Theresa stated that since Grace’s disappearance she has been contacting police local to our area, including Baraboo and Lake Delton. She has also reached out to the Wisconsin’s Department of Justice’s Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI).

Captain Rob Sinden with the Baraboo Police Department stated his officers have been actively looking for Grace since September and because of connections she has in their area. “We’ve had several detectives out looking,” he stated.

Chief Zilisch does not believe Grace to be in Mauston, but he stated his department has been in communication with Baraboo and DCI.

While The Messenger had Chief Zilisch’s attention, the question arose as to why there had not been a press release about Grace missing, especially once she was listed at possibly being a missing and exploited child. “In retrospect we could have issued that,” he said. Zilisch went on to explain that his department processes quite a few runaway complaints, and the information is listed in a database so that if any officer comes in contact with the child, they would be detained. The real question is at what point does it a case go from a typical runaway where the child turns back up on their own to a more serious case which Grace’s parents fear is their daughter’s.

“I just want her to know that no matter what she needs to know we love her and want her home. We can get through whatever is happening and will support her,” stated her mother, Theresa.

From the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

What to do if your child is missing

Immediately call your local law enforcement agency.

After you have reported your child missing to law enforcement, call the National Center

for Missing & Exploited Children at

1-800-THE-LOST(1-800-843-5678).

If your child is missing from home, search through:

Closets.

Piles of laundry.

In and under beds.

Inside large appliances.

Vehicles – including trunks.

Anywhere else that a child may crawl or hide.

Notify the store manager or security office if your child cannot be found when in a store. Then immediately call your local law enforcement agency. Many stores have a Code Adam plan of action in place.

When you call law enforcement:

Provide law enforcement with your child’s name, date of birth, height, weight and descriptions of any other unique identifiers such as eyeglasses and braces. Tell them when you noticed your child was missing and what clothing he or she was wearing. Request law enforcement authorities immediately enter your child’s name and identifying information into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center Missing Person File.