by: Tom Klatt
In Arizona, 16-year-old Dakota Kilpatrick snuck out of a group home, and her family feared her obsession with social media may have led her into the arms of a dangerous predator. The last time Dakota ran away, police found her in Phoenix. I, with help from fellow Investigator Kelly Townsend – started our search there, but an online clue soon led us to a bleak corner of Tucson.
This case was successfully solved primarily due to the family member’s familiarity with social media, not only as a communication tool but also as a means to navigate and constantly monitor online movement of Dakota. The search for her presented several challenges primarily involving the geographic distance between her family residence and the ultimate location where she was found. We had to search a large area including cities that were unfamiliar to both myself and the family. Further, with the assistance of a local private investigator familiar with the demographics of Tucson and Phoenix, he was able to narrow the search area and obtain relevant information from key witnesses.
When we located Dakota I felt a great sense of relief and happiness for not only the family but also Dakota. She had been in an extremely dangerous area of Tuscon and was in the company of very unsavory characters. After a successful reunion in cases such as Dakota’s, it is important for the family is to demonstrate support and not to question the decisions made by the missing person. Rather, the family needs to express their love and desire to have the family member home.
Tips/Recommendations for Loved Ones of a Missing Person
If the family is in a position to hire a private investigator to assist with the search for a missing person, they should consider an individual or firm with law enforcement experience. This becomes an asset as they can then liaise with law enforcement while also understanding its limitations and communicating the needs of the family in a positive manner. Private investigators can devote endless hours to the search that may not be possible for the police. They have access to a variety of databases and experience in investigations involving missing persons.
In 1998 Tom and his partners opened MKD International a private investigation service that specializes in finding missing people. Tom heads their Missing Person’s Unit, which is the go-to agency for the Missing Children’s Society of Canada. Tackling cases around the world, Tom’s goal is always the same: find the missing and bring them home. You can reach out to Tom at: firstname.lastname@example.org.