As missing person experts here at Lauth Missing Persons, we know that each year that passes makes it increasingly important that we safeguard our children against threats that may lurk behind a screen, just as much as those out in the everyday world. With the internet opening the back door into their lives, parents must stay up to date on ways to protect children online.
Today’s children are more computer literate than any generation that came before them. Most toddlers master their parent’s smartphones with dizzying speed, and the Covid-19 pandemic certainly transformed devices into necessary portals for staying in touch with friends and continuing their education. Framed by the reality of modern life, how can parents allow their kids to enjoy the bounties of the digital era without exposure to the risks?
Set Parental Controls on Your Devices
There are a range of digital tools available to parents who want to protect their children online. Many web browsers and sites offer these services for free—for example Google’s SafeSearch. Content filters like SafeSearch prevent accidental discovery of violent or sexually explicit content online, while usage controls allow you to time-limit or prevent certain types of device-use. Parental monitoring tools help you keep an eye on which sites or apps your children access. While a variety of free tools can be harnessed, many parents take comfort in using paid parental control software, for an iron clad level of security.
Teach Your Children to Be “Share Aware”
Few children could have any frame of reference for how their sharing their information can put them in harm’s way. Details ranging from location information to photographs, email addresses, phone numbers, schools, and even private thoughts can each become a vulnerability in the wrong hands. As such, teaching your children to be “share aware” can help them danger in the future. Everything that goes out online is known as a “digital footprint”, and it’s difficult to know how far it will travel. If they wouldn’t share that information or image with a total stranger, then they should never post it online—even privately—and if they feel unsure, they can always ask you before they click.
Talk to Your Children About Who They Connect With Online
Parents always vet who their children spend time with in the real world, so it stands to reason that they do so online. Without the life experience to teach them otherwise, children can be naive about who they trust, and what they believe. An important part of protecting children online is discussing their digital social circles, and educating them on what constitutes bullying or unacceptable behavior. Teach your children to be social media savvy, including how to block unwanted contacts, and report inappropriate or offensive posts so that they can protect themselves and others.
Lead By Example and Keep the Dialogue Going
Modeling courteous, safety-conscious, and responsible online etiquette can influence your children more than you know. Be sure to set a good example, including limiting your own screen time. Encourage free conversation with your children about what they do online, and ask them to show you the different sites and apps that they enjoy. Keep screens and devices in shared spaces, or check in regularly when your child is using a device in another room. By making all things virtual a shared experience, you are far more likely to be the first call if your child ever feels unsafe online.
The missing person investigations team here at Lauth Missing Persons often encounter families who are facing their worst parental fears. To combat these moments, we encourage focusing on safety awareness from an early age, protecting children online, and staying informed about contemporary risks. If you have reason to doubt the safety of your child, the team at Lauth Missing Persons may be able to assist. Learn more about what we do, or contact us today.
You may have heard horror stories about outdoorsy, adventurous individuals who visit a national park and mysteriously disappear. This is because many hikers and explorers fail to take certain safety precautions before making their visit.
Many of us crave the freedom of getting out into nature, but the beautiful wilderness of a national park undoubtedly comes with its own dangers. Factors such as unpredictable weather patterns, dangerous wild animals, navigation challenges, and even other human beings can be huge safety risks. Today we’re going to talk about how you can mitigate these risks before you visit. Our missing person investigators know how important safety is when it comes to taking a hike or even a leisurely walk through the wilderness and in the case of a national park, preparation and caution are the first measures taken in ensuring you return home.
Do Your Research
Unless you’re a rugged local, there is a good chance that you won’t be familiar with the hazardous animals native to the National Park in question, and the rules and regulations that have been put in place to keep adventurous visitors safe. Jump online to familiarize yourself with the terrain, wildlife, and best routes—picking up a map as you go.
Know the Weather Forecast
Alongside reading general guides on the National Park’s trails, wildlife, and conditions, don’t forget to check for weather updates before you leave. Getting the latest weather report can help you avoid getting caught in a freak storm, while checking local bulletins and social media pages will alert you any worrying wildlife sightings, trail collapses, facility closures, and algal blooms that you should know about.
Know Your Limits
One of the most common pitfalls that leads people to go missing in National Parks is simply biting off more than they can chew. Understanding the distance that you are hoping to cover, the challenges of the terrain in question, and what is realistic for you to achieve is vital for keeping you and your traveling companions safe out in the wilderness. In addition, share a final itinerary plan with a friend or family member before you set off, so that someone knows at least where you should be along the way. If you can share your phone’s location with someone you trust, it might just be a life-saving measure.
Bring The Right Clothing
Heading up into the mountains on a sunny day might seem like a call for shorts, a t-shirt, and some sturdy tennis shoes, but never forget that wild-landscape weather can change in the blink of an eye. Strong and supportive footwear will keep you mobile as you move into remote areas, and carrying a full selection of layers will mean that you can keep yourself warm, dry, and alive if conditions get dicey.
Stay On the Trails
While National Parks invest heavily in maintaining safe trails for public use, it remains necessary to be alert to where the trail ends, and peril begins. Between the sheer scale of trying to mark every trail and the aim to interrupt the environment as little as possible, it is expected that visitors remain self aware. While the promise of a better view around an untrodden corner might seem tempting, crumbling rock faces, deep canyons, and slippery scree slopes can make deviation dangerous.
Respect Animal Life
Each National Park issues its own guidance on sensible distances to maintain between yourself and its native animal populations. While Yellowstone recommends staying at least 100 yards from wolves and bears, make that distance even greater if you suspect the animal in question may have young in tow. Do your homework on how to behave in proximity to wildlife; pick up some bear spray and stay in groups when traveling into bear country.
Carry Food and Water Responsibly
Whatever the duration of your planned trip, aim to carry double the water you should need. There is no way of knowing if the contents of waterways within a National Park are safe to drink, and if something goes wrong you’ll be covered. As far as food is concerned, keep everything edible under wraps, and never feed animals or leave your leftovers behind. Animals who become used to seeking food from humans may become a threat to you or other visitors.
Bring a First Aid and Emergency Kit
Taking a first aid kit with you when hitting the trails is just common sense. If you’re going further from the beaten path, consider adding emergency flares and survival equipment, and ensure that at least one of your party is first aid trained.
Take Your Safety Seriously
Here at Lauth Missing Persons, we know that a lack of awareness of the world’s dangers can result in serious consequences. While our missing persons investigations team are dedicated to finding those who have vanished, we’d much prefer that you take precautions and kept yourself safe in the first place.
If you ever need help finding a missing person, our team of missing person specialists are ever-ready to take action. Learn more about how we can help at www.lauthmissinstg.wpengine.com
Unless purposefully setting out to drop off the radar, nobody jumps on an airplane with the intention of becoming a missing person overseas. However, it is vital to remember that US citizens can and do disappear abroad, far from home, and without the critical support networks that support their everyday safety. Acknowledging this fact doesn’t have to mean skipping all of the incredible destinations on your bucket list. Instead, there are a number of safe travel tips that you can take to minimize the risk of your dream trip becoming a nightmare.
Through our work as international missing persons investigators at Lauth Missing Persons, we often venture overseas to pick up the trail of those whose loved ones are deeply concerned. By following the tips below, you can avoid becoming a worrying statistic—or warranting a call from your family to our team.
1. Research Your Destination and Stay Ahead of Danger
One of the first and most crucial safe travel tips is research. While danger and criminality can be lurking anywhere in the world, some destinations are much more dangerous than others. This makes it vital to do your research when planning any trip so that you can better understand the risks.
Investigate your intended destination online, including discovering if danger is more elevated in certain local areas or at certain times. Where possible, subscribe to live updates and travel advice, and monitor the local news so you’ll know if the situation on the ground changes. Whether traveling as a tourist or on a business trip, some locations may warrant a security risk assessment or professional support on arrival.
2. Create an Itinerary and Plan to Communicate With Loved Ones
Far too often, when we begin our work to find a missing US citizen abroad, we find that they didn’t communicate their most recent movements with their family or friends. This is a recipe for disaster if something untoward happens. In contrast, simple communication can dramatically increase your safety.
With this in mind, create an itinerary for your closest friends or family members and update it promptly if plans change. Communicate frequently, sharing details such as where you are staying and planned day trips, or even if something unusual has occurred.
3. Avoid Routine and Don’t Overshare Publicly
When it comes to safe travel tips, it doesn’t get more universal than oversharing on social media. Criminals are always on the lookout for those made vulnerable by routine behaviors. For example, a tourist who habitually takes a dark shortcut or visits the ATM at the same time each evening is an easy target for express kidnapping, a term that describes holding someone hostage and forcing them to withdraw money from their bank account.
You can protect yourself when traveling by mixing up your daily habits. You can also mitigate the risk of being targeted by keeping any social media or blog posts that share your location or plans private for as long as you’re in the area.
4. Prioritize Security and Backup Your Essentials
At times, a missing person abroad is simply someone who has lost all means of communication. When in an area with limited internet and cell phone coverage, losing your bag with documentation and financial means can be a crisis in the making.
This makes it pertinent to safely store essentials wherever possible and keep spare copies of travel documentation and ID in a secondary location. Keep valuables out of sight whenever around strangers and keep hard copies of crucial contact phone numbers.
5. Maintain Your Vigilance
Keeping your wits about you when traveling is always the strongest tactic when it comes to remaining safe. At times, this will mean choosing a better-lit street on the way home, while at others it will mean avoiding going out altogether.
Be vigilant about what’s going on around you, and if in doubt, refer to the old adage “If you feel threatened, leave. If in doubt, get out.” Always connect with those you trust if you feel unsafe traveling and consider reaching out to local police or your nearest US Embassy if you need urgent support.
What to Do If a Loved One is Missing Abroad
Whether you lose track of a traveling companion or grow concerned about a family member who is currently overseas, it is important to take any missing US citizen case seriously. Discover more about what can be done next on our free missing persons resource page, or reach out to the Lauth team if you would like the expert assistance of an international missing persons investigator.
If you’ve been following the fervent coverage of the missing person case of Gabby Petito, you’ll undoubtedly have heard about the disparity that occurs in missing person coverage in the media known as Missing White Woman Syndrome. Missing White Woman Syndrome is the cultural phenomenon in which stories about young white women receive the bulk of media coverage when it comes to missing persons. Other names associated with Missing White Woman Syndrome are Mollie Tibbets, Natalee Holloway, and Lauren Spierer—all young, beautiful white women who went missing under perilous circumstances. The high drama of their cases practically eclipses coverage of nonwhite missing persons, especially missing women of color. Petito’s case has reignited the national conversation around Missing White Women Syndrome, and prompted true crime fans to familiarize themselves with stories of missing women of color who have received a fraction of the media attention as Petito.
Modesto, California is incredibly familiar with high-profile missing person cases because it was the location of the Laci Peterson disappearance back in 2002. However, coverage of Susana Torres’ disappearance more than 3 months ago has not garnered national attention despite the harrowing circumstances of her disappearance. Susana remains missing after she disappeared from a grocery store parking lot in Stanislaus County, California back in April, 2021. Susana was kidnapped at gunpoint by her ex-husband, Javier Chavez, 41, who forced her into the car and drove off with their two young children in the back seat. Chavez reportedly dropped the children off at his mother’s house, then drove off with Susana in the car. She has not been seen since. Chavez is believed to have fled to Mexico, and investigators are currently working with the Mexican authorities to find him.
Few things exacerbate the urgency of a missing person search like the missing person carrying a child. Akia Eggleston was last seen on May 3, 2017 in the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore Maryland. At the time of her disappearance, she was eight months pregnant. She was reported missing on May 7, 20217, just a week before Mother’s Day, when she did not show up to her own baby shower. Despite the advanced stage of her pregnancy, and the circumstances of her disappearance, her case and all subsequent addendums to it have received little to no media coverage.
Nine-year-old Asha Degree disappeared more than 20 years ago in North Carolina. Her case shares details with Elizabeth Smart, but did not recieve the same level of coverage. Like Smart, Asha disappeared from her bedromo in the middle of the night between 2:30AM when her mother went to check on her, and 6:30AM when she went to wake her children for school. There were two eyewitness accounts from persons who claimed to have seen a young girl walking away from Asha’s home around 4:00 AM. Asha has not been seen since. The case remains an open investigation.
Lauren was a 30-year-old New Jersey teacher when she was last seen on Jun 28, 2021. She was last seen leaving a residence on foot in Yucca Valley, California. Lauren’s case shares many of the same details with Gabby Petito’s story—such as the fact that she had recently returned from a cross-country trip with her ex-boyfriend in a tour bus. She had been staying with the ex after they returned from the trip. Lauren’s case is just one of many that has gained new life since coverage of the Petito case escalated.
Missing child cases do get comparable media coverage to that of young white women, but this coverage very rarely includes children of color, like Sofia Juarez, who vanished in Kennewick, Washington in 2003. The circumstances of her case could have been clickbait fodder for nervous Facebook parents who share viral stories of attempted abductions by sex traffickers in the present day—but back in 2003 before the ubiquity of social media, it still did not receive ample media coverage at the time. Investigators have recently reported a credible witness account from a woman who claims she saw a toddler who matched little Sofia’s description being abducted by a young adolescent boy—a common tactic of sex traffickers. Investigators are continuing to follow all incoming leads.
Dulce Maria Alvez was also from New Jersey. She was just five years old when she disappeared from Bridgeton City Park while visiting with her mother after a trip for ice cream. Her disappearance was noticed when her younger brother informed their mother that he could not find Dulce. Investigators reported that Dulce may have been abducted by an unknown man who lured her into a red van. He was described as light-skinned, between 5’6” – 5’8”, with a thin build, no facial hair, and acne. Police said he was wearing orange sneakers, red pants, and a black shirt. Despite Dulce being placed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list of missing children, her case remains largely unknown.
When a person goes missing, the onset of the investigation is already overwhelming for the family and loved ones of that missing person. Investigators who take the initial report need a cornucopia of information in order to get an idea of their schedule, their habits, and who they were close to in their lives. From there, investigators develop a plan for search and recovery of that missing person. One of the only things that could exacerbate these circumstances further is when a loved one goes missing abroad. International missing person investigations already require the cooperation of several entities that could be easily tied up in red tape. The apprehension associated with a strange country where you don’t speak the language and are not familiar with their legal system further compounds the panic that sets in when a loved one goes missing abroad. That’s why loved ones need to consult an international missing person investigator to ensure that no stone goes unturned.
Missing person investigations are inherently a tricky business. Though there are certainly observable patterns in missing person victimology, every case is different, and each case demands a unique approach. While a missing person report and investigation must be initiated with law enforcement, many families of missing persons will tell you that their local police or sheriff department was ill-equipped to handle the disappearance of their loved one. This could be due to a lack of labor, resources, or an overwhelming caseload for investigators. Regardless of the source of the issue, all roads lead to lost time in a missing person investigation. All missing person investigators will tell you that the first 48-72 hours of any missing person investigation are the most crucial, because that is the window of time when relevant witnesses and evidence are still fresh. Unfortunately, in the case of international missing person cases, the time in which it could take to properly facilitate the launch of a missing person investigation, these important leads could be lost. International investigations come with unique quirks depending on the country, but with regards to Americans who go missing abroad, families can expect to encounter problems with language barriers, lack of knowledge about the law enforcement systems in place, and general confusion when it comes to navigating the investigation.
One such case where an international missing person investigation faced similar issues was the case of Travis Sackett. Lauth Investigations International recently joined the search for the missing Batavia, New York man who went missing while travelling abroad in Ecuador back in February 2021. On the day of his disappearance, Travis was reportedly on his way to hike the nearby Imbabura Volcano. When he did not report to work the next morning on the farm where he had been working and living, his host reported him missing. In the initial stages of the investigation, searches for Travis by local law enforcement were very spaced out due to poor weather conditions, and valuable time was lost in the onset. Despite the crucial direction of local guides and the dedication of independent investigators, there have still been no answers in the search for Travis.
An international missing person investigator can run a concurrent investigation with local law enforcement into the disappearance of an American who goes missing overseas. While local law enforcement runs their protocol in missing person investigations, an independent investigator can turn over proverbial stones that law enforcement lacks the time or resources to investigate. If your family is struggling with a loved one who’s gone missing abroad, please reach out to Lauth Investigations International for a free consultation on how our missing person investigators can help you find answers.
There is an epidemic of people going missing in the United States that is on steady incline. It effects families across all classes, all races, all ideologies. Over 600,000 people are reported missing in the United States every year. Most of those reported missing are found not long after the onset of the investigation. However, that still leaves thousands of cases open and unsolved across the nation, with some jurisdictions having scant resources or inadequate experience to close those cases. On top of these shortcomings, some missing person cases will be inherently more difficult than others, typically because the missing person has some form of special needs. Whether the local authorities or an independent investigator is heading up the search, it’s imperative that they be able to mitigate the special circumstances of a missing person with special needs.
When we talk about a missing person with special needs, this can mean many different things. Missing people who have personal circumstances that would make the search atypical for investigators can be defined as special needs. The first thing that might come to mind is a missing person with intellectual disabilities or a person who requires the use of a wheelchair or crutches. However, they could also have a mental illness, have behavioral or personality disorder, or have external circumstances that would make their day-to-day life atypical, like houselessness or substance abuse. The investigator in charge must be well-versed in those issues, and consider them when developing a strategy for the missing person search.
While every missing person case will be unique in its own way, the early stages of most missing person investigations begin with similar approaches, typically by interviewing the family and getting as much information on the missing person as possible. Missing persons who do not have special needs will stick to routines that are in line with their careers, families, or interests—movements that are relatively easy to predict and deviations from these movements can be easily classified as suspect. When searching for a missing person with special needs, conclusions about these circumstances cannot be easily defined without further investigation. Lauth missing person investigators know the importance of keeping an open mind and an open ear in the early stages of a missing person investigation. Our missing person investigators give each case the unique attention it deserves.
When searching for a missing person with special needs, the families must have the consult of a responsive and communicative investigator. After all, the special circumstances of the case will need the guidance of the family in order to execute the search efficiently. Families must seek an investigator who will make regular progress reports, ask a great deal of questions, and take the anecdotal evidence of the family to heart when formulating a plan to find the missing person. At the conclusion of the investigation, that investigator will prepare a comprehensive report of all their findings for the family, answering all of the open questions in the case to the best of their ability, even when those findings may be difficult to hear.
Missing person investigators must also have a diverse recovery plan in place should the leads end in discovering the missing person’s location. The right missing person investigator will have the professionalism and humility to know when they are in over their head, and require the assistance of local law enforcement to assist in recovery efforts, particularly when the missing person has fallen victim to some form of human trafficking and is being held by volatile subjects. Whatever the precarious circumstances the case has led to, the best missing person investigators will always have contingency plans in place that prioritize the safe recovery of a missing loved one.
If you are missing a loved one with special needs, contact Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our missing person services. Lauth carries a glowing A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and regularly receives 5-star reviews from our grateful clients. Call 317-951-1100 today or visit us online at www.lauthmissinstg.wpengine.com