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Published Wednesday October 21st, 2009 at 3:35pm

Original Article by Brooke Cain

Troy Dunn is a man with a mission, andin tonight's episode of "The Locator," that mission to reunite lovedones and heal broken families once again brings him to North Carolina.

Dunnhas been locating people professionally for going on 20 years, eversince he helped his own mother track down her birth mother. He knewthen that helping people obtain closure -- for better or worse -- wasthe work he was meant to do. And for the past few years, that work hasbeen chronicled on the emotional and inspirational WeTV show, "TheLocator."

Locating people is work Dunn truly considers his life'scalling, and it's a calling that keeps him very busy. Dunn told us inan interview last week that he receives about 20,000 emails a year frompeople asking for his help. Of those requests, Dunn and his staff areable take on about 15 "Angel Cases" per year -- the special or moreurgent cases featured on his show.

But paring 20,000 requests down to 15 cases is not an easy task.

"Thatmight be the hardest part of being The Locator," he said. "It's a hardprocess using gut and heart, and trying to figure out 'who today mostneeds a miracle.'"

He says he personally reads almost all of those 20,000 emails, but there are always a few that jump off the screen.

Oneof those special cases recently brought him to Greensboro, where heworked with a family searching for the little girl they fostered forfive years nearly 20 years ago. The couple had been unable to havechildren and decided to foster a 2-year-old abused girl who neededemergency foster placement. Two years later, the women became pregnantand had a daughter, and they all lived together as a family.

Butwhen little Tamisha was just 7 years old, Social Services removed herfrom the home without warning. The couple's daughter contacted Dunn andasked for help in locating Tamisha, hoping to give her mother closurethrough seeing Tamisha again and telling her how badly the situationhad hurt the family.

Dunn, who often looks as though he'd be justas comfortable in a superhero cape as he does in his serious darksuits, says he has a continually changing list of deal-breakers hesticks to when considering which cases to take on: generally, noletters from prison, no searches for minors, no stalkers, and nodeadbeats.

"If I find a man not paying his [child support] and he's got a sandwich in his hand ... I've got no time for that," Dunn says.

Healso won't help you track down a celebrity, no matter how close youclaim to have once been, but he has had celebrity clients. He can'tdiscuss many of them, but can reveal that he has helped both MelissaGilbert and Ray Liotta find their birth families.

Not everysearch has a happy ending, though. Dunn says when he feels his clientis especially fragile, he puts on his "dad hat" and thinks, "is thisperson I'm locating someone I'd want to have in my son or daughter'slife?"

Last season, he admits things got a little bit tense witha father he'd located."I didn't even think we were on camera, but I said to him he better notlet me down and be the man he's accused of being. He said he was a goodfather. I don't bring people into my clients' lives to make thingsworse."

Dunnsays he will tell a client when he thinks they are better off notmeeting someone he has located. "I have no hesitation pulling out of acase if I feel it's a bad situation. A few people want to press forwardanyway. Sometimes they want closure. No matter whether the door isclosed or slammed, it's still closure."

Dunn also talked about aNorth Carolina case from last season involving a father with cancer whowas searching for the son he had not seen since the boy was about threeyears old. It was complicated, as most of his cases are. Dunn grilledthe father about his early attempts to remain in his son's life, oncesatisfied that Mike Greco Sr. was a good man who just made somemistakes, Dunn moved forward and found the son. Mike Jr. was living inConcord, N.C., at the time.

"He was such a wonderful man," Dunnsaid of Greco Sr. "They went on trips together ... He just passed awaythree weeks ago on Sunday. There's often that sense of urgency. Ifeither of them had waited, they would have missed each other here onearth."

Dunn, who is married to his high school sweetheart, hasseven children himself and understands urgency. His daughter wasdiagnosed with cancer a few years ago, but is doing well now.

"That'swhat I tell people -- you just cannot wait. If you even have aninkling, you have to reach out. It could turn into a huge blessing foreveryone."