In the digital era, our lives tend to be laid bare for everyone to see. This makes it all the more worrying when someone falls off the grid. There are a number of reasons why someone might disappear—perhaps foul play is involved, or perhaps they don’t want to be found. They may have vanished yesterday or have been under the radar for years. In either case, if your concern is how to find a missing person, there are a number of options to explore.
Today, we’re going to examine some of the tactics that you can try to locate someone who is missing in your state or territory. If these options fail, an expert missing persons investigator can make quick work of turning up new leads and tracking the individual in question down. Depending on the urgency of the missing person investigation, you can choose whether to make your own inquiries or call in the cavalry.
Should You File a Missing Person’s Report?
If you’ve simply lost track of a relative or old work associate, want to find your adoptive parents, or hope to locate an ex who has defaulted on child support, there is likely no need to get law enforcement involved. However, if you fear that the disappeared individual may be in immediate danger or may have been abducted, the first step is to file a missing person’s report. In the case of a kidnapping, you can dial 911. How the authorities respond will depend on the nature of the disappearance and how long they’ve been missing.
Take Your Missing Person Investigation Online
If you’re wondering how to find a missing person in this day and age, then there’s a good chance you’ve underestimated the power of Google! You might be able to locate the individual’s social media presence, see when they were last active online, and discover new connections or leads to follow.
In addition, by running searches with other information you have about the person who is missing, you might find traces of them on the websites of employers, social venues, sports and hobby associations, family tree organizations, and court houses. You can also check the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, and even upload the information of the person you are trying to find.
Check in With Friends, Family, Co-workers, and Known Associates
Following the trail of someone’s daily life—the people they usually connect with, and the places that they normally visit—can often shed light on what has happened. If you know something about the life of the person you’re looking for, you may be able to cast a net of discovery by working through their contacts and retracing their habitual steps. You can also check to see if they used location-sharing apps with loved ones that might still be active on their phone.
Contact Local Hospitals, Shelters, Jails, and the Coroner’s Office
If the individual in question vanished recently, there is merit in ruling out the possibility that they are somewhere nearby but unable to share their location. Working your way through these locations can eliminate the possibility of accident, shielding, incarceration, or death. Keep in mind that depending on the nature of your connection, not everyone will be able to assist. When contacting hospitals, give a detailed description of the missing person’s appearance so that they can be identified if they’ve been in an accident but aren’t carrying ID.
Launch a Campaign to Find the Missing Person
Reaching as many minds as possible by harnessing viral information sharing is one of the most effective tools in a missing person investigation. This can be achieved by creating missing person fliers to put up around the neighborhood, sharing the poster and other information on social media, contacting local news outlets, and even setting up a crowdfunding page to support your search.
Turn to Public, State, and Federal Records
When trying to trace someone for who you have no recent information, there are several record-keeping avenues to explore. The DMV may be able to release current and past addresses in certain states, while state records may be able to reveal things like marriage, divorce, crime, or bankruptcy. You can also utilize the Freedom of Information Act to request federal records from the United States Department of Justice
Hire a Missing Person Investigator
At times, a missing person investigation requires the skill of a professional. An expert missing persons investigator from Lauth Investigations can take the search much further than you can, leveraging licensed access to the same databases used by law enforcement, digital forensics skills, the capacity to perform detailed background checks, and much more. Learn more about our expert approach to how to find a missing person, or reach out to our team for a no-commitment consultation. Finding people is what we do, and we’re always ready to spring into action on behalf of our clients.
There are few thoughts more terrifying than that of a child or loved one failing to return home at the end of the school or working day. While kidnapping statistics in the United States aren’t made public, recent cases such as that of Elizabeth Thomas and Ethan Gilman plant this threat in the minds of concerned citizens. Happily, both of these victims were thankfully rescued, but not all are so lucky—which makes the swift execution of a kidnapping investigation all the more crucial. If you are personally invested in the search, there are certainly things that you can do to support and aid a private investigator, so that they can follow hot on the heels of the kidnappers.
Before we get into how you can add momentum to the process of bringing your loved one back safely, let’s first look at where to turn for effective missing persons investigations. Hiring a private investigator for kidnapping cases is not as simple as calling the first PI in your local directory. Missing person cases—and specifically kidnapping cases—call for a unique skillset. The investigator selected should be fully licensed and versed in many of the same tactics used by law enforcement, such as digital forensics, witness examination, surveillance, background checks, and crime scene investigation. Don’t settle for an under-qualified PI for the task of assuring your loved ones wellbeing.
Provide an In-Depth Description of the Kidnapped Person
Every detail, large or small, can help in a kidnapping investigation—and time is of the essence, so don’t hesitate to share. A private investigator for kidnapping cases will begin with the basics before moving on to more complex profiling. Prepare to provide them with the victim’s:
Age and date of birth
Distinguishing features such as tattoos and scars
Current and past addresses
Employee or student ID
Social media profiles
Building Out the Profile of a Victim
If the identity of the kidnappers is unknown, the private investigator will make quick work of profiling their life and recent movements. You can support them in this endeavor by making a list of everyone in their life—whatever their role might be. This will include family members, friends, roommates, colleagues, associates, classmates, and neighbors. You can also detail daily habits and the places that the victim frequents, such as education centers, sports centers, heath centers, social meeting places, and members’ clubs.
Any opportunity to pick up a thread of connection could lead to the unraveling of the case and the location of your loved one. If you pursue your own investigations or receive direct or suspicious contact, notify all parties conducting a kidnapping investigation directly and immediately—including law enforcement and independent investigators. In turn, a private investigator for kidnapping cases will always keep clients fully informed at every step of their search.
The Value of a Private Investigator for Kidnapping Cases
While law enforcement often take the lead on missing person cases of this nature, their resources may be limited, or—painfully for those trying to find a loved one—they may not take the case as seriously as you feel they should. A private investigator hired to conduct a kidnapping investigation will be able to pour every necessary resource into the hunt, and acts entirely on behalf of the client while observing the laws that apply to their work. They may collaborate with the police or pick up where they left off, but will answer to you rather than higher powers.
Licensed private investigators can search many of the same databases used by police investigators, request local CCTV footage, examine witnesses, and follow leads across state lines and international borders. Members of the missing persons team here at Lauth Investigations have backgrounds that include work in law enforcement and security, providing the necessary skills to navigate potentially dangerous investigations in which the perpetrators don’t follow normal moral codes. If you require help from a specialized private investigator for kidnapping cases, our compassionate and dedicated team are ready to take on the challenge immediately. Contact us today to learn how we can assist.
The Placer County Sheriff’s Office is still searching for 16-year-old Kiely Rodni, who disappeared from a campground in Tahoe, California almost a week ago. Kiely Rodni was last seen at approximately 12:30 AM on August 6 near a campground in Truckee at massive party with more than 200 young adults in attendance. She was reported missing when she failed to turn up for a hike with friends the next morning.
The search has entered its fifth day, with the case being treated as an abduction because Kiely’s silver 2013 Honda CRV is also missing, and her cell phone dropped out of service since her disappearance. Over 260 law enforcement personnel have been canvassing the area to develop leads in Kiely’s disappearance to no avail, but law enforcement believe that someone in the community could still come forward with new information. In a press conference on Wednesday, Nevada County’s Sheriff Office captain Sam Brown told reporters, “We believe that someone knows. Someone saw her but they’re not coming forward.”
Those who attended the party at the campground are being urged by law enforcement to come forward with any information about Kiely’s whereabouts or disappearance. Kiely’s mother, Lindsey Rodni-Nieman also appealed to the public to help her find her daughter, “We are desperate for any other teens to come out and share the last pieces of the story that nobody seems to be able to piece together,” she told the Independent. “If we could just have that piece of the story of who did she leave with, when, which way did she go. I’m imploring the teenagers and the parents of the teenagers.”
Jagger Westfall, Kiely’s boyfriend has also revealed details about their last interaction together—that he told her to avoid doing “anything stupid” during her night at the campground, and adding that he has previous taught her how to protect herself and “get out of sticky situations.” Despite his belief that Kiely is still alive somewhere, Westfall also told The Independent that he’s desperate for confirmation, “I really need her back. I really just need to know that she’s safe, that’s all I need at this point. I really want to hug her again…I don’t know where she is. We don’t have anything to go off of at this point. But I fully believe that she’s alive and well.”
When television series The First 48 hit screens across the United States, Americans were introduced to the idea that the odds of solving a missing person investigation drop by half if a solid lead is not found within the first 48 hours. Why might this be? It’s a harsh reality that when a crime has been committed, the memory of witnesses and trail of leads can fade all too quickly. It is critical for investigators to strike while the iron’s hot and take action quickly.
If the person who has vanished is someone central to your life, it’s easy to feel powerless in the face of such uncertainty. However, there are lots of things that can be done within this key window of opportunity to increase the odds of bringing your loved one home safely. Steps ranging from leveraging social media to hiring a private investigator for missing persons can be taken. Here, we’ll detail what you can do in the first 48 hours to tip the odds in your favor.
Confirm that they’re really missing
All sorts of unexpected events can cause someone to drop off our radars, and at times, people simply don’t wish to be found. Even if your loved one makes a habit of cutting off communication, an instinct that tells you they may not be safe should always be followed. To confirm they are missing you can check their home and workplace, or call the local authorities to make a well-being check. If there are obvious signs of a struggle the police should be called immediately. If, however, the person’s absence is simply unexplained, you don’t have to wait to file a missing person’s report—you can do it right away.
Contact law enforcement
When contacting the police, provide as much detail as possible to aid them in their missing person investigation—everything from a detailed personal description to a DNA sample if requested. The authorities may raise a silver or amber alert and you can ask that the case information be sent to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. It’s important to notify the police if there is a mental health aspect to the disappearance. You can also give them the details of your loved one’s smartphone so they can trace it, as well as contacting the justice department for advice on possible financial assistance.
Connect with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances
You can reach out to anyone who may be close to or have had recent contact with the missing person. This may mean treading the same ground as the authorities, but you can communicate your findings with them as you go. Colleagues, acquaintances, friends, case managers, neighbors, doctors—the list is extensive, and all ideas are good ideas.
Upload their information to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)
Make a one-page flyer and post it in relevant neighborhoods
A missing person poster can help spread the word when someone goes missing, potentially alerting key witnesses. You can Google online examples, although the commonly used format includes two recent photos, the person’s name, their hometown and state, their height, weight, and age, and the place they were last seen. If they may be in a known vehicle, you can include that information. The phone number of the police station or investigator should be included at the bottom.
Connect with nearby hospitals, churches, shelters, and the coroner or medical examiner
At times a missing person is located somewhere where they either cannot contact friends and family, or they don’t realize their disappearance has caused alarm. You can reach out to your local hospitals and even places such as the local library to check for leads. While it might seem like a negative step to contact the coroner in the first 48 hours, doing so is helpful in the process of elimination, and will add another pair of eyes to the list of all who are watching for your loved one.
Leverage Social Media
Upload your missing person poster to social media and ask your contacts to spread it far and wide. This offers fast coverage, making the most of that crucial first 40 hour period. You can also set up a crowdfunding page if you need resources to conduct your own searches. The online community is always quick to support others in any missing person investigation and may turn up a critical lead.
Alert the local media
Local media—whether digital, a town newspaper, or a television station—will also help to spread the word. The more people that know about a missing person case, the more likely it is that a pivotal piece of information will come to light.
Recruit a professional missing person investigator
Particularly if those impacted by a disappearance are feeling frustrated by the lack of police progress, hiring a private investigator for missing persons can bring greater resources and momentum to the search. A licensed missing person investigator from Lauth Investigations will have access to many of the same resources as law enforcement with the added capacity to follow leads across state lines where police jurisdictions might end, and even internationally if that’s where the case points. While police may only be able to throw very limited resources at a missing person investigation in the first 48 hours, a private investigator can give it their full attention. If you need assistance in bringing a loved one home, call our dedicated team today. With over 30 years experience in the field, we have the skill and passion required to reveal the truth.
The state of Kentucky is still reeling from the devastation caused by the flooding that occurred last week. While more than 1,400 Kentucky residents have been rescued from the wreckage, more than 100 people are still missing and unaccounted for. Scores of missing people are just one of the tragic effects of natural disasters throughout history—families displaced and separated by destruction and want of resources. Searching for missing persons in natural disasters is always an uphill battle, but with autonomy and due-diligence, there is hope.
Missing person searches are inherently complicated by their very nature, but the exacerbating circumstances of natural disasters can make them even more complicated. Natural disasters like floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes can destroy the established lines of communication that missing person searches are dependent upon. Families are unable to contact their loved ones due to things like downed power lines, lack of Wi-fi, displacement, or grievous injury. Police also become inundated with these reports and have to perform triage in the order of operations to determine which cases are the most urgent. Unfortunately, due to the large volume of people in need, families are often alone in searching for missing persons in natural disasters.
One of the most daunting tasks during the recovery stages of a natural disaster is the cataloging of remains pulled from the wreckage. This means the remains of missing persons in natural disasters can go unclaimed for months or even years. However macabre, these catalogs make it much simpler for families to submit samples of their loved one’s DNA in order to identify any relatives whose remains were recovered. This allows officials to give names to the remains and give families the closure they so desperately need. Relief organizations from FEMA to the Red Cross have online resources with steps private citizens can take to find information about missing persons after a natural disaster. While the reality of submitting one’s DNA for identification purposes might impose an emotional toll that’s too great for some, it is one of the most effective ways to get definitive answers. Families can find closure in knowing the fate of their lost relative or friend.
According to relief organizations throughout the United States, the name of the game now is reunification—doing whatever is possible to reconnect those displaced by tragedy to their remaining loved ones. For example, one of the many reunification resources offered by FEMA is a collaborative effort with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, supporting all measures to return minors under the age of 21 to their parents or guardians. The American Red Cross has a similar database project called Safe and Well, which is an online database designed to help reunited families. Regardless of the scale of the disaster, Safe and Well is administered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and works closely with the local Red Cross Chapter of the area in question. While many will experience the miracle of reunification, the terrible reality is that so many more will be left with unanswered questions.