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.
When it comes to missing children and teenagers, there are a broad spectrum of factors that can play a role in their disappearances. Everything from home and family life to social and environmental risk factors are on the board, but the fact remains that despite the circumstances, all missing or runaway children are at risk of being trafficked once they leave the safety of their homes. Protecting against sex trafficking is a higher priority than ever for parents who know that their children will face risk around every corner.
Tips for Protecting Against Sex Trafficking
Protecting teenagers from sex trafficking is a critical concern, and it’s essential to educate both teenagers and their parents or guardians about the risks involved. Here are some steps you can take to help protect your teen from sex trafficking:
Open communication: Establish open and honest communication with your teenager. Create a safe space where they feel comfortable discussing their concerns and experiences. Encourage them to share any suspicious or uncomfortable encounters they may have had or witnessed.
Educate your teen: Teach your teen about the dangers of sex trafficking and the tactics traffickers use to lure victims. Explain the signs and red flags associated with potential trafficking situations. Make them aware of the importance of personal boundaries, consent, and healthy relationships.
Online safety: Help your teen understand the risks of online interactions. Educate them about the potential dangers of sharing personal information online and the importance of privacy settings on social media platforms. Encourage them to use strong passwords and avoid engaging in conversations with strangers online.
Monitor online activities: Keep an eye on your teen’s online activities without invading their privacy. Consider installing parental control software or using monitoring apps to track their internet usage, including social media platforms and messaging apps. Regularly review their friend lists and connections, looking out for any suspicious individuals.
Teach critical thinking: Help your teen develop critical thinking skills to evaluate the information they encounter online and offline. Teach them to question the credibility and intentions of sources, advertisements, and potential recruiters. Encourage them to think independently and make informed decisions.
Be involved in their life: Maintain a strong and supportive relationship with your teen. Show interest in their activities, hobbies, and friends. By staying involved, you are more likely to notice any changes in behavior, sudden secrecy, or signs of distress.
Set boundaries and guidelines: Establish clear boundaries and guidelines for your teen’s activities, both online and offline. Discuss the importance of curfews, knowing their whereabouts, and seeking your permission before going to unfamiliar places or attending events. Encourage them to inform you or a trusted adult if plans change.
Encourage a support network: Encourage your teen to develop relationships with trusted adults, such as teachers, mentors, or family friends. These individuals can provide guidance, support, and additional perspectives outside the immediate family.
Report suspicious activity: Teach your teen how to recognize and report suspicious behavior. Make sure they know the appropriate authorities to contact, such as local law enforcement or organizations dedicated to combating human trafficking.
Seek professional help: If you suspect that your teen may be at risk or has already been involved in sex trafficking, seek professional assistance immediately. Contact local law enforcement and specialized organizations that can provide guidance, resources, and support for victims and their families.
Remember, preventing sex trafficking requires ongoing education, open communication, and a supportive environment. By implementing these strategies, you can significantly reduce the risks for your teen and empower them to stay safe. If you have concerns your missing teen may be vulnerable to sex trafficking, contact our office to learn how our team of private investigators can give you peace of mind when it comes to the safety of your children.
The Amber Alert system is an integral part of today’s society, rapidly disseminating information about missing children and aiding in their safe recovery. Named after Amber Hagerman, a young girl who was tragically abducted and murdered in 1996, this system has saved countless lives since its inception. This article delves into the history of the Amber Alert system, its development, and its impact on child safety.
The Tragic Incident that Sparked Change
Amber Hagerman’s abduction and murder in Arlington, Texas, in 1996 was the catalyst for a nationwide effort to improve the way law enforcement agencies respond to child abductions. Her case garnered extensive media coverage, prompting community members and law enforcement officials to collaborate on finding effective ways to prevent such incidents in the future.
The Birth of the Amber Alert System
In response to Amber Hagerman’s tragic fate, the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Radio Managers and local law enforcement agencies in Texas collaborated to create the Amber Alert system. They sought a way to quickly distribute information about abducted children to the public, hoping that rapid dissemination of this information could significantly increase the chances of a child’s safe recovery.
Amber Alert Criteria and Activation
The Amber Alert system follows specific criteria for activation, focusing on cases where law enforcement believes a child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death. These criteria typically include the belief that the child has been abducted, the child is under 18 years old, and there’s enough descriptive information about the child, the abductor, or the suspect’s vehicle to assist in their recovery.
Expansion and Implementation
The success of the Amber Alert system in Texas led to its adoption in other states and, eventually, on a national level. In 2003, President George W. Bush signed the PROTECT Act, which authorized the U.S. Department of Justice to establish a national communications network for broadcasting Amber Alerts. This marked a significant milestone in the system’s evolution, allowing alerts to be rapidly disseminated across various media platforms, including television, radio, and digital billboards.
The rise of smartphones and social media platforms provided new avenues for reaching a wider audience in real time. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) became an integral part of the Amber Alert system, delivering geographically targeted alerts directly to people’s mobile devices, ensuring that information about missing children reached them regardless of their location.
Criticism and Improvements
While the Amber Alert system has been largely successful in recovering abducted children, there have been instances of false alerts, technical glitches, and criticisms of its effectiveness in some cases. However, these shortcomings have prompted ongoing improvements, including refining the criteria for activation and enhancing the accuracy of the information provided in alerts.
The success of the Amber Alert system inspired other countries to adopt similar systems to address child abductions. Many nations have developed their own alert systems. The Amber Alert system stands as a testament to the power of collaboration between law enforcement, media outlets, and the public in ensuring the safety and well-being of children. From its humble beginnings as a response to a tragic incident, the system has evolved into a nationwide and even global lifeline for missing children. While there may be challenges and improvements along the way, the Amber Alert system remains a vital tool in the ongoing effort to protect children from abduction and harm.