Unfortunately, there isn’t a certified rule book for how to handle it when someone you know or love goes missing. Cases vary, and child abduction is handled much more aggressively than, say, an adult who hasn’t surfaced in a few days.
Every police agency follows different guidelines — some will take a report right away, while others may ask for you to wait 24-48 hours to see if the person turns up. No matter what, though, the Michigan State Police urges you not to wait if the missing person is elderly, a juvenile, or if it’s someone who might be a victim of foul play.
More often than not, the local or national news will not air the photo of someone who’s vanished with that famous “Missing Person” caption unless an official police report has been generated. Sometimes, the station may even want a press release issued by the department, combined with the actual report.
Despite some of those daunting initial hurdles when looking for a missing adult, there are things you can do to build a solid foundation to help your loved one come home safe, and the Michigan State Police put together a page of helpful tips.
TALK TO POLICE
Officers will ask you for a photo, the missing person’s date of birth, an address, a description, and what they were last seen wearing, as well as the last time the person had contact with anyone or where he or she was last seen.
This is a great platform that provides nationwide listings of missing people. You may have to have law enforcement on board as well, but it’s another high-profile, legitimate place to help get out the word about your missing loved one.
CONDUCT VOLUNTEER SEARCHES
As you probably know, the families and friends of a missing person will sometimes conduct their own volunteer searches of the area where the person was last seen. The Hoggle case is a great example of that. Although two young children have been missing for more than a year, the children’s father and loved ones still come together to do random searches of various areas. The Michigan State Police says it’s important to loop law enforcement in with your ideas to see if they can assist or if they can even support a search.
TURN TO SOCIAL MEDIA
In may cases we cover here on CrimeFeed, families and friends will create a Facebook or Twitter page to help get out the word about their loved one. This provides one targeted place to post updated articles, search information and general updates, and is a great way to get more attention to your case.
TURN OVER DENTAL RECORDS / DNA
If the case is more than 30 days old, the state police says you can offer up dental records or DNA. The information gathered will be entered into the CODIS databank and could be cross-referenced to prior remains found in the awful event that something more serious has happened.
If your elderly loved one has gone missing, many states offer the assistance of a Silver Alert. It is very similar to a child Amber Alert, and it posts information about the missing elderly person on billboards and signs across highways in the state where they went missing.
According to the Amber Alert alerting system, as of January 2013, if you have a cell phone, chances are you are automatically registered for Wireless Emergency Alerts. This means those alarms will come directly to your phone if there is a serious missing-child situation in your area.
Any other ideas for how to find a missing loved one? Share them below.