How Private Investigators Can Assist in Locating Missing Persons or in Personal Safety and Surveillance

How Private Investigators Can Assist in Locating Missing Persons or in Personal Safety and Surveillance

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The road to a person becoming missing is often a complicated one. Before being directly targeted, many individuals require support to ensure their personal safety, or assistive surveillance to stay ahead of potential threats. At every stage of this complicated issue—from minimizing risk to being able to find people who have vanished—the private investigator offers a unique and multi-faceted skillset. Here, we’ll explore why this role is so important, and how a PI goes about launching a people search, and what steps they take to keep people safe.

Why Private Investigators Help to Protect and Find People

Hundreds of thousands of people are reported missing across the United States every year, however these statistics sadly only reveal the tip of the iceberg. This is because the parameters that justify police involvement either when a person suspects that they are under threat or even when someone has vanished are narrow. 

Those who are vulnerable—or even their loved ones in the case of an abduction—often turn to private investigators because they know that acting early and acting fast is essential. Even once police do mobilize in these kinds of cases, their resources are limited, making a skilled and specialist professional able to mount a people search or make threat assessments a vital asset in the effort to ensure personal safety.

Determining the Credibility of and Assessing Threats

Where police investigators may make only a superficial assessment of potential threats to persons, a private investigator’s role is to dive as deeply as the client feels is warranted. They can analyze threats made to you, your home, or your business, whether they were made verbally, physically, or digitally. With the threat identified, they will then assess whether the individual or individuals in question aim only to scare or intend to take direct action. If the latter is the case, the investigation will potentially transition into a violence threat assessment. In turn, the private investigator’s findings may assist in ensuring that the authorities take the situation seriously.

Assisting in Threat Management

Private investigator firms like Lauth Investigations International specialize not only in reacting to a crime, but also in active prevention. This will include making comprehensive security analyses, advising on best safeguarding practices, and liaising with the police, security companies, legal teams, and more. We can also provide thorough background checks on staff and security personnel to ensure that the enemy has not already made it through your perimeter.

Launching a People Search When Someone Goes Missing

If you, a colleague, or a loved one vanishes, make no mistake—when there is a need to find people, time is of the essence. With a 90% success rate, our dedicated Missing Persons Division has been bringing disappeared adults and children home safely for more than 30 years, and we will leave no stone unturned or trail unfollowed in the name of retrieving those you hold dear. 
We combine physical searches—internationally, whenever required—with digital forensics, high-tech surveillance, canvassing and interviews, and in-depth background checks to piece together the essential details that will lead to those of whereabouts unknown. To learn more about how we can assist in personal safety and surveillance or locating missing persons quickly, simply contact our respective Threat Assessment and Missing Persons teams, because your safety and security is our top priority.

Have you seen Timothy Perez? Texas man believed to be “missing voluntarily” by Round Rock police.

Have you seen Timothy Perez? Texas man believed to be “missing voluntarily” by Round Rock police.

timothy perez

For over three months, the parents of Timothy Perez have been making the same drive across Texas in search of their missing son. Robert and Sandra Perez make the drive every few days from Conroe to Austin in search of clues pertaining to Timothy’s disappearance. Timothy, 32, was last seen in the Houston area on March 5 before driving to Austin to visit his brother. His parents have been looking for him ever since.  

Robert and Sandra have been canvassing homeless shelters and food pantries across the state of Texas under the theory that Timothy may have become lost and disoriented on his way to visit his brother in Austin “We’re going to homeless shelters and any food places where they give food out. My son is not a homeless person. He doesn’t know that environment. But hopefully his instinct kicks in and he’ll go get something to eat,” Robert told KXAN Austin. When Timothy never connected with his brother in Austin, his family filed a missing person report with the Austin Police. Austin Police stated that they found Timothy’s car stranded along Interstate-35 near Parmer in North Austin, but there were no traces of Timothy.    

As they criss-cross the state of Texas on the four-hour drive, Robert and Sandra are always meeting and speaking with new people, and posting flyers in hopes that someone out there will recognize their son and call the number with information—especially locals since they are not familiar with the area. “You know, we just need eyes out there, something you know? Where did he go? He was here in Round Rock.” 

At the time of his disappearance, Timothy Perez was experiencing some depression brought on by the pandemic. He was last seen at St. William’s Catholic Church in Round Rock when Round Rock Police responded to a call for a welfare check regarding a man in the area. Police spoke with the man, who refused to identify himself. Days later, it was confirmed that it was in fact Timothy Perez. “We believe he is voluntarily missing based on our officer’s interaction with him—in which it was determined he was not in danger, was not a danger to others, was not committing a crime—and based on the subsequent investigation. We do not know his current whereabouts or status. Round Rock was one location in which he was spotted, but we have no indication he is still on Round Rock.”  

Timothy’s family is working with Texas EquuSearch and hired a private investigator to help with the investigation. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Timothy Perez, call 512-844-7933 or Texas EquuSearch at 281-309-9500.    

A Missing Girl and a Polaroid: The Mysterious Disappearance of Tara Calico

A Missing Girl and a Polaroid: The Mysterious Disappearance of Tara Calico

tara calico

At 9:00 am on September 20, 1988, a hazel-eyed 19 year-old named Tara Leigh Calico set off on a bike ride from her home in the sleepy New Mexico town of Belen. Keen cyclist Tara had borrowed her mother’s neon pink Huffy mountain bike because her own was damaged. She was last seen at 11:45 am, making her way along Highway 47 in Valencia County. When Tara left home that morning, nobody could have imagined that she would soon be classed a missing person.

Tara Calico had made plans to play tennis with her boyfriend that afternoon. Having expected her home by lunchtime, Tara’s mother Patty Doel began to worry, and decided to set out in search of her daughter. Unable to find a trace of Tara, Patty contacted the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office. Missing person investigations quickly sprung into action, and police spoke to a witness that had seen a light-colored pickup truck driving alongside Tara. They discovered broken pieces of the young woman’s Walkman and cassette tape on the roadside, but no other signs or leads were forthcoming.

A Mysterious Polariod Is Discovered

tara calico

Almost a year later, in June of 1989, a shopper made an alarming discovery in Port St. Joe, Florida. Some fifteen hundred miles from where Tara Calico had gone missing, the woman found a polaroid photograph in the parking lot of a Junior Food Store. She’d noticed the small printed picture after a white Toyota van pulled away from the parking spot. To her alarm, the woman realized that it depicted a young woman and a little boy, bound and gagged in the back of a van, so she called the police.

Local police immediately began searching both for the van and the possible captives suspected to be within it. Road blocks were set up around the area, but the vehicle was never found. Having both gone cold, the two cases were not connected until July 28, when Tara’s father Joel received a call from a friend who had seen the Polaroid image on a Current Affair television show.

The Sheriff’s apartment agreed that the girl in the image shared a likeness with Tara, although they couldn’t be sure. Simultaneously, the case of missing 9 year-old, Michael Henley, was also tied to the photograph. The boy had vanished in April of that year when hunting with his father around 75 miles from the location of Tara’s disappearance.

Uncertainty And Poor Communication

The Polaroid was analyzed by both the FBI and Scotland Yard, with the former concluding that it wasn’t Tara, and the latter concluding that it was. Michael Henley’s parent’s were convinced that the Polaroid depicted their son, but their suspicions were dispelled when the boy’s remains were found in 1990, not far from where he had gone missing. Mother Patty pointed out that the girl in the image shared the same scar as Tara on the back of her right shoulder. A book by one of Tara’s favorite authors was also visible beside the girl in the van.

Adding to the anguish of Tara’s parents, two more Polaroids appeared in the years that followed; one blurrily depicting a young woman’s face, and a second showing a bound young woman with an unidentified male on an Amtrak train. The identity of the individuals in all three Polaroids has never been confirmed.

As the search continued, a diversity of false leads led missing person investigators on several wild-goose-chases in their hunt for Tara Calico. In 2008, Valencia Sheriff Rene Rivera claimed that he knew what had happened to Tara, describing witness accounts of two teenage males seen harassing Tara before knocking her from her bicycle with their vehicle. Rivera indicated that they may have disposed of her body having killed her by accident, but refused to name the suspects citing a lack of evidence. Tara’s father Joel was reportedly greatly distressed that no arrests were made.

Reaching Out For Additional Missing Person Assistance

In their quest to discover what happened to their daughter, Tara’s parents never gave up hope. Each year, they brought Tara gifts and kept her room ready, just in case she ever returned home. Tragically, both Patty and Joel passed away without ever learning what happened to their daughter. Tara’s siblings and friends continue to search for answers.

For those who face the immense burden of a missing loved one today, there are more options available when it comes to seeking missing person assistance. The team here at Lauth Investigations are ever-ready to turn expertise, cutting edge resources, and more than two decades of experience to following the trail of your missing loved one. We can also assist with establishing effective Go Fund Me campaigns, so that friends and family members can focus on the search rather than fretting about finances. New resources such as Interpol’s I Familia database also aid us in taking missing person investigations international. To discover more about how we can assist, contact our team today.

REVEALED: The hidden methods investigators use to find missing people

REVEALED: The hidden methods investigators use to find missing people

Lauth Missing Persons Investigators can help you
One woman, detectives working on a case in dark office.

Revealed: The Hidden Methods Private Investigators Use to Find Missing Persons

The true crime world is fascinated by tales of missing persons. Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services are always adding new documentaries and series about missing persons, which often detail the sophisticated methods that law enforcement uses to find missing persons.  However, when law enforcement cannot close a missing person case, families will turn to the expertise of a private investigator to find a missing person—but without the resources and support of a law enforcement agency, how does a private investigator find a missing person?

Verified Databases

Although private investigators do not have access to the same level of informational resources as law enforcement, they still have tools at their disposal to help find a missing person. Through their licensure by the state, private investigators have access to verified databases that allow them to conduct background checks on subjects in a case. When trying to find a missing person, these databases can be used to develop leads, find a subject’s last known address, look up criminal histories, and so much more.


Private investigators typically have diverse and comprehensive experience in surveillance operations. Surveillance is one of the covert ways that private investigators can find a missing person. Surveillance operations are a great way for private investigators to collect data, develop leads, and document the unseen factors in a missing person case.  For example, when trying to find a missing person in a sex trafficking ring, private investigators may set up surveillance equipment around a suspected hub of operations in order to develop a concrete plan for recovery. Such recordings and pictures can also be used in criminal and civil court.

Witness Rapport

When trying to find a missing person, one of a private investigator’s best tools is their ability to identify potential witnesses and develop a rapport with them in order to extract information. This can be done overtly or covertly. Sometimes investigators attempt to develop a personal relationship with witnesses in order to extract information from them without suspicion. Within reason, investigators may also wear disguises and present alternative pretenses for speaking with the witness. Whatever the circumstances of the case demands, investigators have the ability to develop leads and corroborate previously received testimony regarding the relevant facts in the case.

Undercover Operations

In some circumstances, it might become necessary for an investigator to develop a ruse or undercover operation in order to find a missing person. Investigators have been known to go undercover as delivery drivers, party patrons, or in extreme circumstances, embedding themselves into criminal enterprise in order to get answers. Investigators can wear covert surveillance equipment on their person, such as hidden cameras and microphones, in order to document relevant facts in the case and use them to develop further leads in recovering or finding the missing person.

Awareness Campaigns

Keeping a missing person’s face out in the media is crucial to a continuing a flow of information and leads for investigators. Though it may sound harsh, the public has a very short memory. Cases of missing people, particularly women of color, are forgotten almost as soon as they’re heard. It typically falls to the families of missing persons to conduct missing person awareness campaigns on their own time, relentlessly sharing their picture and story so that it may increase the chances of their loved one being found. Law enforcement does not typically devote sources specifically to awareness campaigns, but private investigators sometimes offer online awareness campaigns as part of their services for finding missing persons. The more time the missing person’s face is in the public eye, the more leads investigators are likely to generate.

To learn more about missing person investigations and resources, visit us online at

Barry Morphew Arrested in Disappearance of Wife, Suzanne Morphew

Barry Morphew Arrested in Disappearance of Wife, Suzanne Morphew

The family of Suzanne Morphew has finally seen movement in the case of the missing Colorado mother who disappeared one year ago. Her husband, Barry Morphew, has been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in the presumed death of Suzanne, authorities announced on Wednesday.

Though Suzanne Morphew’s body has not been found, the affidavit that was the basis for Morphew’s arrest detailed reasons why investigators believe he is responsible for his wife’s disappearance and presumed death. While that affidavit remains under seal, Morphew also exercised his right to remain silent, immediately asking for representation following his arrest. Chaffe County Sheriff, John Spezze, said, “Today is not the day for celebration nor does it mark the end of this investigation. Rather it’s the next step in this very difficult yet very important journey as we seek justice for Suzanne and her family.”

Suzanne Morphew, 49, has been missing for over a year, disappearing on May 10, 2020, Mother’s Day. She was reported missing when a neighbor called 911 to report that Morphew had gone for a bike ride and never returned. In a Facebook video that arched many eyebrows on the internet, Barry Morphew pled with the public for any information leading to her safe return, offering a $200,000 reward. “Now questions asked, however much they want, I will do whatever it takes to get you back,” Morphew said in the video.

When searches by law enforcement of the area where Suzanne went bike-riding turned up nothing, her brother, Andy Moorman, announced in mid-September that he was recruiting and organizing volunteers for his own search efforts. “I need to find her, need to bring her home, give her a proper burial and closure for my family,” he told KMGH-TV. “And that’s my point, I’m not about finding somebody guilty or trying to inflict punishment on anyone. That’s law enforcement’s job.”

Morphew’s arrest is the result of a sprawling effort by law enforcement to find answers in his wife’s disappearance. More than 135 searches have been conducted in the state of Colorado, and investigators interviewed an excess of 400 people across several states. Suzanne was described by Spezze as “a rare find” and someone who was much beloved by those who knew her. She had two daughters at the time of her disappearance.

Missing Mother Kadence Hooper, two sons found alive and safe

Missing Mother Kadence Hooper, two sons found alive and safe

Missing person investigators in Alabama have recently closed the search for a missing mother and her two children following initial reports that they might be in danger. Kadance Cierra Hooper, aged 29, was last seen with her two young sons last seen Tuesday, February 16, 2021.

Kadence and her children went missing after she had picked up her oldest son from school on Tuesday. An already disturbing disappearance was further exacerbated by medical complications related to Kadence’s illness of multiple sclerosis, which is known to cause anxiety and depression. An alert was released by the New Brockton Police Department about the disappearance, stating “Mrs. Hooper is a 29-year-old white female and may be living with a condition that may impair her judgement.” Investigators had additional concerns about Kadance following a report that she had taken possession of two handguns prior to disappearing with her two young sons, leading investigators to believe she was armed and may be a danger to herself or her others. Investigators believed Kadance to have disconnected her phone, making it impossible for law enforcement to track her. Law enforcement placed a BOLO, or statewide alert on her vehicle, and advised the public that she may be armed and her judgement may be impaired.

After eight long days of searching, New Brockton Police were able to report that Kadence and her children were finally located, alive and safe.

When a loved one goes missing, consider hiring a private investigator to conduct a concurrent missing person investigation with law enforcement. This ensures that no stone will be left unturned and your family can get answers fast. Call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our missing person services. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at