For Himebaugh, hope hurts. Whether hope is more painful than saying a permanent goodbye — that's impossible to figure.
"For the past 23 years, I've been happy for the families over that time who have recovered their kids, dead or alive," he said. "At least they've got closure. My biggest fear is I'm going to go to my grave and never know what happened to Mark, and why."
The flip side of that fear is hope — and the loved ones of the missing hold tight to every glimmer. Advocates and others often speak of persistence, of keeping missing children's images in the public eye, of always working to make sure the public stays alert for the one tiny detail that could end a family's agony.
"What an amazing time to be talking about hope, with everything that's happening," Jaycee Dugard, who was missing for more than 18 years before being rescued, said this week at an awards ceremony where she urged the audience not to give up on missing children.
In Cleveland, several religious leaders spoke on that theme Wednesday. Catholic Bishop Richard Lennon posted a video message urging viewers to pray that missing people "may have the strength of the virtue of hope and that their families also may never give up hope."
After a prayer gathering on the block where the women were found, the Rev. Larry Harris of Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church said, "There's a hope that many, many more will be coming back home."
On the block where the three women were found, Tonia Adkins was wearing a T-shirt printed with the face of her missing sister, Christina Adkins. Cristina vanished in 1995 at age 17, four blocks from the house where the women were held captive.