by: Kelly Townsend
My best advice to families is do not hesitate to reach out to a private investigator once your child is classified as a “Runaway”. Once that happens take measures to hire an investigator because time is of the utmost importance. The longer they are gone the less likely a happy return may occur. Be sure if you contact an investigator be sure to ask how many missing persons cases they have worked, and how many they have been successful on. Success is rare so please do not expect the number to be large, but be sure you hire someone who is known for working these types of cases.
In the case of Dakota what led us to find her was the coordination of volunteers from the 12 Legions of Angels organization, whose purpose is to find and rescue the missing and human trafficking investigations and rescues. The first thing a family needs to do is find someone who can create missing person posters and print them in mass. Next is find volunteers to help hanging the missing posters, and put them in the areas where the person was last seen alive. Have the volunteers go out and hang posters where the child went to school, where they lived, and any where else the family or investigator requests. One thing people who are looking for a missing person should do is put the phone number on the poster of the police, BUT more important is a number that is not to any law enforcement entity. Anyone calling in a tip probably does not want to be identified and that is KEY to getting someone to call.
Next thing parents of missing children need to do is to make sure they have caller ID, but also take steps to obtain a program called Trap Call. This software or application can go on a cell phone and breaks all blocks on the cell phone numbers and landlines. This way you know the number that is calling you immediately. I say this because that number could be usable to call back for a limited time. You want to be sure you get the number traced by either law enforcement if possible or, hire a private investigator who has the capabilities to trace the call or has the contacts to do so. Either way it is a tool to use if and when the missing person attempts to make contact. There are a lot of tricks to our trade and parents can use these once their child goes missing that will assist law enforcement or a private investigator and the cost is very minimal to people.
Once the parents have their child back PLEASE remember this: no matter what you may want to know, your child has gone through quite an emotional and possibly physical situation. Judgment needs to be stowed away. When the child is ready to discuss what they endured and went through, than is the time to listen, and understand. Be there for them through the healing process. This case was successful, and both Tom Klatt and I wish all of them were successful, but unfortunately that is not possible due to the amount of predators on the streets today.
Kelly Townsend has been a licensed Private Investigator in Arizona and California for more than 20 years. Kelly and his wife work pro bono for FindMe2.com, as well as with CFSI, and has actively done charity work for the Arizona Child Crisis Center. They have also begun an organization to prevent Human Trafficking called 12 Legions of Angels.