The search for Kelly Nolan, a UW-Whitewater student who was last seen downtown in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 23, is widening each day. Utilizing Facebook, a blanket of fliers around the city, and a swell of national media attention, the family and friends of the 22-year-old woman persist in their search and efforts. Their latest tool is a blog, helpfindkelly.org, through which they are tracking the search and offering background information, photos, and flyers for persons looking to help.
Also titled Help Find Kelly Nolan, the blog was created by David Wurst, a web developer in Oshkosh who volunteered his services after learning about Nolan's disappearance. There were already two Facebook groups -- please help find Kelly Nolan (started by her sister April) and Have you seen KELLY NOLAN (started by her friend Megan Janeway) -- that were launched last week, but there was no public website, one that would provide information about the search for persons who don't use the social network. After joining the first Facebook group, Wurst decided to offer his help with the search.
"I thought they could benefit from a website," he says, "so I offered to set up a wholly public blog so that the family could provide information to anybody in the world." Wurst quickly received permission from April Nolan to go ahead, and launched the site in a matter of hours on Monday night.
In the week since the Madison Police Department first issued a missing persons notice for Kelly Nolan, the search for the missing student has drawn growing national attention. Last Friday, University Communications at the UW-Madison issued a notice requesting assistance in finding Nolan, while over the weekend her family and friends covered downtown Madison with missing person posters. Attention snowballed from there, with multiple cable television programs taking notice as the new week started.
UW-Madison graduate and Fox News host Greta Van Susteren featured the search on her program Monday night, interviewing Nolan's mother and sister about her last known whereabouts. Van Susteren subsequently opined on safety in downtown Madison, concluding that State Street remains safe. By Tuesday, the search gathered more attention, including from America's Most Wanted, ABC News, and the Nancy Grace program on CNN's Headline News. In an interview with Wisconsin Radio Network, MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain noted the heavy amount of national media attention the search is receiving, saying that this is hardly a surprise to him given the context of the case.
Credit for this increasing national media attention is due in part to the assertive stance of the family, who are enlisting more people like Wurst as their search continues. "They've been telling me about how they're contacting friends and acquaintances everywhere for help," says the web developer.
Wurst remains in contact with April Nolan on operating helpfindkelly.org, who is letting him know how to update the site as the search lengthens.
A PDF format missing persons flyer for Kelly Nolan is available in the related downloads at right.