Missing Persons Investigations

A missing person case often requires the use of several different investigative methods. The first step is to check social media and any financial transactions made on the individual’s accounts.


Various international organizations play a critical role in addressing the problem of missing persons by reconnecting families, providing psychological support, and pushing for robust policies on the issue.

1. Check Social Media

Missing persons investigations are a significant drain on police resources, and the problem is not going away. Thankfully, the general public can play a huge role in helping find these individuals.

One way to help is by posting fliers on sites like Craigslist and other online forums. Make sure to include a picture and details about when and where the person was last seen. Ensure the fliers are posted in areas that will get a lot of foot traffic.

Another way to help is by reporting suspicious activity. This is a great way to help police solve cases, especially those related to human trafficking and other crimes against vulnerable groups.

Many people try to hide their identity by using aliases, and this can be a problem for authorities. Fortunately, there are software solutions that can help. These tools can help track down a person’s digital footprint, and they can also detect patterns that might indicate when someone is trying to hide. For example, CLEAR can identify aliases that have been created by mixing real data with fake information.

2. Drive Around Your Local Area

During the Coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people went missing, especially those who were homeless or had mental health issues. One of the best ways to find a missing person is to visit your local hospitals and check out their patient databases. Just show the hospital staff a recent photograph of the person and they should be able to help you locate them.

While most missing person cases are solved within a few days or weeks, some take months or even years. One of the biggest things that you can do to aid in these investigations is to spread awareness of the situation. This can be done by sharing missing person alerts and resources on your social media platforms.

You can also contact your representatives and urge them to prioritize policies that address missing persons issues. Finally, you can support the work of organizations that are dedicated to finding missing people by donating financial contributions. Additionally, you can volunteer your time to assist in the search efforts. By combining these different methods, you can significantly increase the chances of finding your loved ones.

3. Call Local Hospitals

In some cases, missing person incidents disproportionally originate from institutional locations, such as hospitals (Hayden & Shalev Greene, 2018; Huey, Ferguson, & Kowalski, 2020). This is partly due to the fact that people in institutions are confined in relatively small spaces, and calls for police service to locate individuals who have gone missing from these places can draw upon and focus a considerable proportion of policing resources.

Therefore, it is often necessary to contact local hospitals to see whether they are aware of any patients who resemble the missing individual. Ensure that you provide a detailed physical description, including height and weight, age, eye color, hair color, distinguishing marks (tattoos, scars, etc.), and beard/mustache.

It is also a good idea to spread the word about your loved one’s disappearance through local media. This includes TV and radio stations, newspapers, and online news publications. When local media is involved, police are more likely to devote time and resources to investigating the case. This can be a significant step towards locating your missing loved one.

4. Call Your Local Police Department

Calling your local police department is a good way to find out more information about an ongoing investigation or to report different kinds of crimes. In general, you should always contact 911 when someone’s life, health, or property is in immediate danger, which would include violent crimes (including domestic violence), suspicious persons and vehicles, fights, people with weapons, suicides, and emotional or mental episodes that could become dangerous. Other examples of situations to report to the police include burglaries involving suspects that aren’t on the scene, traffic accidents involving non-serious injuries, and noise disturbances like parties or music that goes on for hours.

5. Contact Your Local Sheriff’s Office

Whether it is someone who has gone missing due to a robbery or murder, or someone who simply vanished without a trace, disappearances are a global issue that affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Disappearances often occur in regions dealing with armed conflict and severe socio-political instability. This is especially true for displaced persons on the move.

In some cases, missing individuals are forcibly disappeared by governments seeking to repress political opponents or to avoid legal consequences. Human rights defenders, relatives of those who have already disappeared, key witnesses, and lawyers are especially at risk.

In addition to contacting local police departments, families can also find help from various national and international organizations that assist with disappearances. These groups can help reunite family members, provide psychological support and push for international legal measures to prevent disappearances. Lastly, families can also use public and state records to help with the investigation. This includes records for bankruptcy, births, deaths, criminal records and professional licenses. This information may not lead to a missing person, but it can uncover new details about the individual and help police investigators narrow down their search.