Last Seen Alive: Tracking Dakota Down With Social Media

tom_klatt_squareby: 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.

Dakota & Her Mom.

Dakota & Her Mom.

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:

  • I could not agree with Tom more, no matter what the child has gone through while they are gone, judgment needs to be stowed away, and when the child is ready to discuss what they endured and went through, than is the time to not be judgmental, but to try and understand and be there for them through the healing process. This case was successful, and both Tom and I wish all of them were successful, but unfortunately that is not possible due to the amount of predators on the streets today. 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 can occur. Be sure if you contact an investigator though be sure to ask how many Missing Person 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.

    God Bless

  • koyokoyo


  • renee tiller

    Glad she’s home safely

  • Thank-you Kelly, I certainly agree with your comments and would add that families looking for loved ones should always consider consulting with a private investigator. To Kelly’s point, the private investigator that you choose to speak with should have some credentials consistent with having searched for missing persons. These credentials can often be found on their websites, through word-of-mouth or through a basic meeting with the investigator. Most private investigators will provide the initial consultation free of charge as the investigator will also be trying to determine whether he/she can actually assist. When interviewing a private investigator, it is important to ask them to provide a few references in order to gain further confidence in their qualifications. A law enforcement background is beneficial but not required, there are numerous private investigators with no law enforcement background that I would work alongside without hesitation.

  • Renee, Thank-you for following the show. All of us were greatly relieved when she was located!