Missing Durham minister and community activist found safe

A missing person alert issued for longtime community activist the Rev. Melvin Whitley has been canceled.

“Mr. Whitley has been located and returned home safely,” the Durham Police Department said in an email to The News & Observer Monday afternoon.

Police had issued a Missing Endangered Alert for the 75-year-old Whitley after he was last seen around 1 p.m. Monday on North Elizabeth Street, between East Trinity Avenue and East Geer Street.

North Carolina developed endangered alerts to quickly find people with cognitive impairment who need protection from potential abuse or other physical harm, neglect or exploitation, according to police.

Whitley, a Vietnam War veteran, is a former outreach/prison minister with Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Durham.

In 2009 he campaigned for chair of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, saying he wanted to work on dilapidated housing, drugs and illiteracy. He lost to Lavonia Allison, the political group’s longtime leader who had been chair since 1997.is a longtime community activist.

Whitley is also a former officer in the Durham County Democratic Party, a former political director for the Durham NAACP and former co-chair for Partners Against Crime District I.