Missing persons investigations are always a great source of distress. The disappearance of a loved one is a nightmare that none of us want to face. However, there is a lot to be said for being prepared for the worst as we hope for the best. Knowing what to do when someone we care about becomes a missing person can make all the difference in bringing them home safe and well.
When a partner, friend, or family member vanishes unexpectedly, we can find ourselves in panic mode, and in missing persons investigations, time is often of the essence. While there are many reasons why a person may disappear—not all giving reason for alarm—precaution is always the prudent course, because time may be of the essence. To help you navigate this moment in the name of your loved ones best interests, the missing persons investigations team here at Lauth Missing Persons recommends taking the following steps:
The First Places to Check
When worried about the whereabouts of a loved one, it can be easy to miss an obvious explanation. Missing persons specialists recommend taking a deep breath and taking an analytical approach to checking all the potential places that the person may be, or that might indicate their whereabouts.
- Check the person’s home. If you can’t do that in person, contact someone close by to assist, or reach out to the local authorities for help with a wellbeing check.
- Check their place of work and frequent hangouts, such as health centers, sports clubs, and entertainment venues.
- Contact or visit colleagues, friends, and family members to see if anyone knows where the missing person might be, or where they were last seen.
- Check social media for any indicators of your loved ones plans or recent communications.
- Contact nearby hospitals in case your loved one has been admitted.
As you search for a missing person, keep your phone with you in case anyone—including your loved one—tries to get in touch, or shares information. Keep notes on anything you discover. Be careful not to delete or alter any social media or phone messages, or clean up where your loved one has been in case missing person investigators later need to look for evidence.
When to Contact the Authorities
It is never too soon to contact the authorities when concerned about a missing person. Having checked in all of the logical places—or sooner if the missing person is vulnerable or your instinct tells you that there is cause for concern—you can reach out to your local law enforcement agency to file a missing persons report.
Keep in mind that procedure in cases of missing persons varies from state to state. In some areas police may not be able to act for 24 or 48 hours unless there is reason to suspect a crime, or the missing person in question falls into certain vulnerability categories, such as being under 18, or over 65 years of age; suffering from physical illness; suffering from mental illness; experiencing depression, or suicidal thoughts.
What Else You Can Do
It can feel frustrating when the authorities are not acting with the urgency that you feel they should, however there are lots of other steps that you can take in the interest of finding your loved one:
- Enlist the help of friends and family to create a search party, launch a social media campaign, and put up flyers in your neighborhood.
- Alert the media, providing photographs and a description of your loved one so that they can help you raise awareness across a much larger audience.
- Reach out to organizations working to find missing persons, such as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS), the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Black and Missing Foundation, the international I-Famila Interpol database, and the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
- Encourage the local authorities by offering your assistance; providing data, photographs, and DNA samples of family members; requesting a phone trace; and requesting canine support if mounting a private search.
- Hire a private investigator to help you find your loved one. Missing person specialists can commit more time to searching for your loved one than local authorities agents may be able to, are able to access wider resources than members of the public, and can harness expert knowledge and experience.
If your loved one has gone missing, the missing persons investigations team at Lauth Missing Persons is ready to take action and find their trail. Learn more about what we do or contact us today for immediate action.