Date:August 1-14, 19, 21-25, 27, 30; September 1, 15, 16, 18, 26; October 10, 12; December 1, 18, and 29, 2002
Officials with Florida's child welfare agency repeatedly called the disappearance of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson from state care an isolated case. However, they have been unable to locate more than 500 children under its care, some of them missing for a decade or more. Suspecting the state simply was not actively looking for the children, the Sun-Sentinel set out to locate 24 South Florida children and found nine in a matter of weeks. Using public records and interviewing relatives, reporters found two of the children in under three hours. They located another boy the state had not been able to find for eight years in little more than a day. The story drew national attention and two days later, the head of the Department of Children and Families --child welfare agency-- resigned.