KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Missing person cases have continued to be an issue in the Knoxville area. In 2022, there were 522 cases involving missing adults and juveniles.

Who is looking for these people? How difficult is the task? Officers are specifically assigned to search and try to find those who seem to simply “vanish.”

For the Knoxville Police Department, those who handle missing person cases are detectives like Dona Carberry. She told WATE that one of those cases involved a couple of teens.

“I have two girls who actually went missing from a group home, and they left together, but I don’t believe they are together on the run,” Carberry said.

17-year-old Alieria Donegan and 16-year-old Alexis Franklin have been missing since leaving at the end of March.

“They are now on their own. They don’t have a phone. They don’t have any identification. They don’t have any means to get a ride. They don’t have any money,” Carberry said.

It is cases like this one that truly concern the 16-year police veteran.

“They have no way to get somewhere they want to be, so they have to in order to make their way they have to rely on someone else and many times those people prey on them,” she said.

How do detectives communicate with desperate and concerned families?

“I’m not going to tell the family and get their hopes up with something that might not come to fruition. So, I try to give them updates when I have something to tell them,” Carberry said.

Sometimes that “something” is nothing and Carberry said that is difficult.

“Working these kinds of cases, you get to know these children really well. And to know they have been missing three months, five months, six months, a year and no one has seen a sign of them that is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night,” she said.

Carberry has been working in Missing Persons for Knoxville Police Department now for two years – focusing on juveniles.

“If a parent or guardian or DCS can’t locate them — that’s a big problem,” she said.

Carberry said when cases first come in detectives deal with a lot of family emotions.

“Not only do they want you to listen to them — all the facts they have to say, but they also want you to listen to how upset they are – how important it is,” she said.

While it can be heart-wrenching work — Carberry added it is also very rewarding work.

“Being able to call parents and say I know where she is, I know where he is, and they are safe,” she said. “At the end of the day that is the thing that makes me the most happy,” she said.

One of the teens, Franklin, has been found. However, Carberry said her team is still busy with the cases involving 78 adults and 117 juveniles who have been reported missing in the Knoxville area.

Authorities say nearly 400 people go missing in Tennessee each year. That’s five people for every 100,000. Check this list of people missing from East Tennessee to see if you can help locate someone.