As much as we’d love to say that all missing person cases are solved by their police investigators, that sadly isn’t so. There is comfort in knowing that numbers of missing person cases have declined since the introduction of portable communication technologies, but still—last year’s data shows us that of the 521,705 missing person cases reported in 2021, more than 20,000 missing person cases remain open. That’s why many families turn to a private investigator for missing persons in order to get answers.
This can seem like a small percentage until a loved one lands in those statistics. But if you are one of the desperate few who have been told that police can no longer assist, hope remains. A private investigator for missing persons can throw unlimited resources at picking up the trail—even when the authorities have frustratingly deemed it cold. Let’s explore today what to do when the police can’t find a missing person or are unwilling to try, and why sometimes a private investigator can offer more promise than even the authorities.
Why the Police Sometimes Drop the Ball on Missing Persons Cases
For distraught family or friends of someone who has gone missing, it can feel impossible to comprehend why the police might move onto other tasks or show little motivation to locate your loved one. Understanding this challenging reality begins with knowing that the role of the police is to investigate crimes so that they can be prosecuted, while triaging their various roles and responsibilities with finite resources.
As you may well have been reminded, to be missing in itself is not a crime, and even if you feel sure that something untoward has occurred, without evidence, the police may not deem the case worthy of prioritizing. Similarly, if other criminal matters on their call sheet are seen as more pressing, resources may be diverted away from your missing persons case and onto chasing another matter.
The police will likely weigh certain criteria as they make these decisions, such as whether the missing person is a child, elderly, or disabled, and whether suspicious circumstances point to them being at notable risk. But what do you do if the police decide that your teen is simply a runaway, your spouse decided to leave covertly, or there isn’t enough evidence to chase? In these moments, with the right professional assistance and resources, there is still a way to reignite the investigation.
How to Contract a Private Investigator For Missing Persons
When the police can’t find a missing person, you might decide its time to rev up the urgency and recruit a private investigator for missing persons. This type of professional won’t be bound by the law enforcement chain of command and can commit fully to finding your loved one. In any missing person case, time is certainly of the essence, so the right investigator won’t waste a moment before taking action.
When searching for a missing person, not any old private investigator will do. Tracking a person who is missing—whether they were taken or are hiding for an unknown reason—requires a very distinct skillset. Evidence gathering, surveillance capabilities, multi-state licensure and the experience required to take the search international if required are all sensible credentials to seek out. In all of these areas and more, specialists from Lauth Investigations draw upon more than 40 years combined experience in successfully tracking and locating missing persons. Better yet, we are a large but family owned and run operation, dedicated to serving every client with the compassion and urgency that missing persons investigations require. If you would like to consult with our team, reach out today for a no-obligation chat. We will gladly advise you on your options and do everything in our power to find your loved one if you place your faith in us. Learn more about what we do.
Those of us who enjoy true crime know that missing person cases can become very complex very quickly. Investigators must pin down a timeline of events and develop a precise methodology when it comes to strategizing the search. However, when dealing with a missing person with dementia, an entire new layer of complexities falls on the case. Investigators must tailor their search strategy based on the nature of the missing person’s dementia, and information about their habits and routines from their loved ones.
Information For a Missing Person with Dementia
Information is key to finding any missing person, but even more so in the case of a missing person with dementia. When filing a missing person report, family members, friends and caregivers must be forthcoming with all relevant information. Not just identifying information, but also details about their schedule or their daily routine can inform law enforcement of the missing adult’s habits. Lauth private investigators recommend documenting the following information for the investigation.
Home state and town
Where they were last seen
Their daily routine
Their personal habits
Locations they often frequent or mention in conversation
Details about previous instances of any “wandering” behavior
If the missing person with dementia goes unrecovered for more than three days, you should request law enforcement enter their name onto the FBI’s NCIC list as an “endangered adult.”
Adults with dementia are the most vulnerable adults who disappear. Their brain chemistry is fundamentally different from the average person, stemming from a myriad of brain disorders from Alzheimer’s to alcoholic dementia. As a result, investigating the disappearance of these people becomes complicated. Adults with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are prone to what’s known as “wandering.” There are millions of stories of children whose aging parents simply wandered away from the property. Over 5.5 million people in the United States and 70 percent wander away at least once during the course of the disease. Whether they wander away for ten minutes or ten days, there are a potential 3 million people who are walking away in any given year.
Contacting Law Enforcement
In the case of a missing person with dementia, they cannot afford anything less than immediate response from family and law enforcement. When they cannot remember where they are, where they wanted to go, or how to get back home, they are the definition of endangered. Help for Alzhemier’s Families is a resource website with invaluable information for caregivers. They recommend acting immediately when you realized your loved one with dementia is missing. Conduct a thorough, but expedient search for them in the area where they were last seen. Monica Moreno is the director of Early-Stage Initiatives for the Alzheimer’s Association. According to her, “Those who wander are often found within a half mile of home or the starting location of the incident.” The first 24 hours after your loved one goes missing is crucial, so if you find no sign of them, call 911. Brace yourself and your memory, as your knowledge about the adult’s habits and behaviors will be crucial to aiding law enforcement in locating them unharmed.
Caregivers Are Assets for Finding a Missing Person with Dementia
Caregivers and loved ones should inform law enforcement of the specifics of their disease so they can issue a Silver Alert. A Silver Alert is like an Amber Alert, except instead of missing children, it concerns missing adults with dementia and other mental disabilities. The scope of the alert varies by state, most specifically persons over 65 who have been medically diagnosed by a medical professional as having a mental disability. Some states recognize persons of any age with a mental disability under the Silver Alert. One of the first nationally-recognized cases that laid the groundwork for this alert was the disappearance of Mattie Moore in 2004. She was a 68-year-old Alzheimer’s patient from Atlanta. After Mattie’s body was located 500 yards from her house, the city of Atlanta invented “Mattie’s Call” as a concentrated effort to support responders in search of missing adults with dementia. Today, there are few states that do not have programs formally known as Silver Alerts, or programs that are similar.
An avenue often unexplored by families of missing adults with mental illness is hiring a private investigator. Private investigators have similar experience and tools as law enforcement, and can give your loved one’s case the focus it demands. Depending on how well-staffed a police department is, the average investigator can juggle between 30-40 cases, leaving your missing person with dementia as a file on someone’s desk. On average, private investigators handle between three and four cases at a time, meaning your missing loved one’s case gets the attention and dedication it deserves.
The family of Suzanne Morphew is one step closer to justice after receiving news late last month that her remains had finally been found three years after she went missing. Suzanne disappeared on Mother’s Day, 2020 after allegedly going on a bike ride near her home in Chafee, County, Colorado. On Monday, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation announced that it has established a new tip line for any information related to the death of Suzanne Morphew.
Morphew’s remains were found Friday, September 22 in a desert area of Saguache County known colloquially as “The Boneyard” due to how often human remains are typically found there. The site was only around 45 miles from where Morphew lived with her husband, Barry Morphew. The discovery occurred during a search for another missing woman, Edna Quintana—who is one of five missing people who either disappeared or were found dead in the same area. The remains were reportedly found “in a shallow grave” in a field of dry grasses, according to a statement from the bureau.
Barry Morphew told police that he was working in Broomfield, Colorado at the time of his wife’s disappearance, but he was eventually accused of and charged with her murder, along with tampering with physical evidence in 2021. However, in April, 2022, prosecutors dropped the charges on the grounds that they wanted more time to find Suzanne’s remains. No other arrests have been made in the case, but the charges were dismissed without prejudice so that prosecutors may file charges in the future. After charges were dropped, Morphew filed a $15 million lawsuit in May, accusing them of “tunnel vision” in finding answers in his wife’s disappearance.
Before dropping the charges, prosecutors were alleging that Barry Morphew murdered his wife following her announcement that she was leaving him. Text messages from Suzanne’s phone illuminated the fact that Suzanna believed her husband to be having an affair in April of 2020. Text messages from March of 2020 also revealed that Suzanne was having an affair of her own with a high school flame. Iris Eytan, Barry Morphew’s attorney, claimed that the high school flame has not been “fully investigated” by law enforcement. District attorney, Anne Kelly, told CNN, “The case is still under active investigation. For that reason, I am unable to comment on the investigation until more information is known.”
Every year, countless individuals go missing, leaving behind worried families and friends desperately seeking answers. The search for missing persons is a complex and multifaceted process that requires diverse experience from all those involved. Jobs that help find missing persons stretch across multiple industries to create a comprehensive search campaign that is more likely to yield results.
Jobs That Help Find Missing Persons
Law Enforcement Officers
One of the most visible jobs that help find missing persons is law enforcement. Law enforcement agencies, including local police departments, state troopers, and federal agencies like the FBI, have dedicated units and detectives specialized in missing persons cases. These officers use their training and resources to conduct searches, gather evidence, and coordinate efforts to locate missing individuals. They often collaborate with other professionals and agencies to maximize their chances of success.
Private investigators are often at the forefront of finding missing persons. While law enforcement officials have some prerequisites for investigating a missing person case, private investigators can begin searching immediately after speaking with the person’s family. They use their investigative skills to gather information, conduct interviews, and follow leads. These professionals may work independently or as part of a larger investigative agency. Private investigators play a crucial role in locating individuals who may be intentionally hiding or who have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Search and Rescue Teams
Search and rescue (SAR) teams are essential in locating missing persons, especially in cases involving wilderness or outdoor disappearances. These highly trained teams use various techniques and equipment to search for individuals in challenging environments. They work tirelessly to bring lost hikers, hunters, and adventurers back to safety. Amongst the various jobs that help find missing persons, SAR personnel are some of the most valuable. Without their equipment and expertise, many more families would be left without answers in the disappearance of their loved one.
Intelligence analysts, often associated with government agencies, provide critical support in missing persons investigations. They analyze data, assess threats, and help identify patterns or potential risks associated with the disappearance. Intelligence analysts also play a crucial role in cases involving human trafficking or other criminal organizations.
Forensic experts, including forensic anthropologists, pathologists, and DNA analysts, assist in identifying missing persons when remains are found. They use scientific methods to determine the cause of death, establish the individual’s identity, and gather evidence for investigations. DNA analysis, in particular, has revolutionized the process of identifying missing persons.
Social Workers and Victim Advocates
Jobs that help find missing persons are not always directly associated with the missing. Social workers and victim advocates provide essential support to the families and loved ones of missing persons. They offer emotional assistance, help navigate the legal system, and connect families with resources such as counseling and support groups. Their role is instrumental in helping those affected cope with the emotional toll of a disappearance.
Members of the media, including journalists and broadcasters, play a unique role in raising awareness about missing persons cases. They use their platforms to share information, broadcast appeals, and reach a wider audience. Media coverage can generate tips and leads that aid in locating missing individuals.
Volunteers and Community Activists
Volunteers and community activists often contribute significantly to finding missing persons. They organize search parties, distribute flyers, and engage in grassroots efforts to raise awareness and gather information. Their dedication and commitment can make a substantial difference in resolving cases.
The search for missing persons is a complex and challenging endeavor that requires the collective efforts of professionals from various fields. Private investigators, law enforcement officers, search and rescue teams, intelligence analysts, forensic experts, social workers, media professionals, volunteers, and community activists all play vital roles in finding missing individuals and bringing closure to families and communities. Their combined efforts demonstrate the power of collaboration and determination in the face of uncertainty.
If you or your family have ever found themselves in an unfamiliar crisis, there may have been a moment where you realized that knowledge is power. When you need answers to crucial questions, sometimes hiring a private investigator is the best option for your family. However that might have led you to ask yourself, “What is the cost of a private investigator?” The truth is that private investigation operations are complex, and there are over a dozen factors that determine what the costs and expenses will be associated with the investigation.
To help you better understand the factors that contribute to the cost of a private investigator, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list below:
Type of Investigation: The nature of the investigation greatly affects the cost. Common types of cases include infidelity investigations, background checks, surveillance, and missing persons. Some cases may require specialized skills or equipment.
Complexity of the Case: More complex cases, such as corporate investigations or cases that involve multiple individuals or locations, will generally cost more.
Location: The geographical area where the investigation takes place can impact the cost. Private investigators may charge more for cases in remote or high-cost-of-living areas.
Duration: The length of time required to complete the investigation is a significant factor. Surveillance over several days or weeks will incur higher costs than a short-term assignment.
Experience and Expertise: Highly experienced private investigators with specialized skills or certifications may charge higher rates than less experienced investigators.
Equipment and Technology: Sophisticated surveillance equipment, GPS tracking devices, and other technology can increase costs.
Travel Expenses: If the investigation requires the investigator to travel extensively, expenses such as transportation, lodging, and meals may be added to the overall cost.
Legal and Licensing Requirements: Private investigators must adhere to local laws and may require licenses or permits. Compliance with legal regulations can add to the cost.
Documentation and Reporting: The creation of detailed reports, photos, videos, or other forms of evidence may be included in the investigator’s fees.
Risk and Danger: Investigations involving potential risks or dangerous situations may incur higher costs due to the need for additional security measures.
Additional Personnel: In some cases, more than one investigator may be required, which can increase costs.
Client Requirements: Special requests or additional services requested by the client, such as court testimony, can result in extra charges.
Retainer Fees: Some private investigators may require an upfront retainer fee before commencing work, with the remaining balance billed hourly or at the conclusion of the case.
Confidentiality and Discretion: Ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of the client can increase the cost, as it may necessitate extra precautions.
Consultation Fees: Initial consultations to discuss the case and assess its feasibility may come with a separate fee.
Case Updates: Frequent updates on the progress of the investigation may be provided at an additional cost.
Emergency or Rush Cases: If a client requires an expedited investigation, it may result in higher fees.
Cancellation Fees: Be aware of potential fees if the client decides to cancel the investigation before completion.
Payment Structure: Private investigators may charge by the hour, day, or on a flat-fee basis, depending on the nature of the case.
References and Reviews: The reputation and track record of the private investigator can impact their rates. Experienced investigators with a strong record may charge more for their services.
It’s essential to discuss these factors with potential private investigators during your initial consultation to get a clear understanding of their pricing structure and to ensure there are no hidden costs. Additionally, consider obtaining multiple quotes from different investigators to compare costs and services before making your decision. Keep in mind that hiring a private investigator is an investment in obtaining accurate information and achieving your investigative goals.
If you have need of a private investigator, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free consultation on how we can help you get crucial context in life’s most complex crises.