If you cannot locate one of your own physically, online, or by surveillance, then you just lost them. Missing persons are people in critical need—they are in need of family attention, medical attention, and most importantly, their safety. Family members and friends on the other hand want comfort, and this comfort lies in your search. Step by step, I’ll walk you through the search for your missing person:
- Call local police immediately
Notify the police immediately as soon as you learn of their unexplained absence. The earlier you do that, the earlier the search and comfort.
- Provide quick information to the police
Investigators will want to know the victim’s particulars like; name, date of birth, height and weight, hair color, and other physical characteristics that you can quickly identify with the missing person.
- Share unique identifiers of the victim
If the victim had any tattoos, birthmarks, braces, or eyeglasses, notify the police. Mention their last physical location, their travel plans, medical history, bank account details, phone number, and any other key markers.
- Volunteer helpful information
Reveal to the investigating agency any inconsistencies in the victim’s behavior, suspicious social media activity, recent access to ATMs, or missing personal items. This will go a long way of aiding investigations.
- Keep a copy of the report
Once you’ve filed a missing person report, retain a copy of the same for future follow-up with the investigating officer. You’ll need the victim’s case file number and the Investigating Officer’s (IO) name and rank for future follow-ups.
- Secure personal belongings
One of the immediate actions that you can take as a family is to put aside personal belongings of the person—items that can be used to support investigation. Personal items like toothbrushes, hairbrushes, and undergarments may be required for DNA analysis or any other forensic study.
- Contact family and friends
Contact family, friends, and acquaintances of the missing person for any clues or additional information on the missing person. Did they talk on the phone? When was the last time they talked? Try to gather as much details as possible.
- Distribute posters and flyers
If the disappearance prolongs, hang posters and flyers (with permission to display) in prominent spots like grocery stores, petrol stations, post offices, banks, hospitals, or churches. Display multiple angles of the same photo for easy recognition. Include the most recent photos, and don’t forget to mention age and the victim’s physical attributes.
- Register with databases for missing persons
There are numerous databases on the Internet that offer crucial information on missing persons. Register for such services to expand your search.
- Look for clues on social media
If the victim is an active member of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or any other online forum, you may want to check their space for any leading information.
- Constantly meet up with the IO overseeing the case
As the primary contact, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the search is pursued to completion. Request for regular updates on the status of the investigation.
- Identify alternative help
Consider hiring private investigators and other specialists for a more specialized search. Alternatively, you can promise a reward for any crucial information volunteered in regards to the missing person.
- Seek media attention
If you still can’t locate the missing person, ask to put an ad in a local paper, radio, or even television.
- Search hospitals and mortuaries.
Consider checking with hospitals, coroners, and mortuaries for the missing person if you suspect the worst.
- Distribute updates photos
In cases if the search starts to become long-term, consider using computer age-progressed photos to reflect the new physical attributes of the missing
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