Missing person investigation : a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the unknown whereabouts of an individual.

Missing persons investigations can be some of the most challenging and multifaceted assignments in the law enforcement field. Such investigations are rarely limited to just one area, so detectives working in missing persons investigations are often found collaborating with any number of local, national or international colleagues, institutions, authorities and law enforcement agencies or nonprofit groups.

Distinct types of missing persons investigations:

  • Missing adults
  • High-risk missing persons
  • Persons of a confirmed abduction or persons of a suspected abduction
  • Persons who are missing under known dangerous circumstances
  • At-risk persons, such as:
  • Those in need of medical attention or prescription medication
  • Those who do not have a pattern of running away or disappearing
  • Those who are mentally impaired
  • Those who have been subject to past threats or violence
  • Runaways
  • Unidentified persons
  • Child abductions

The missing persons investigative process typically involves:

  • Determining if the person is designated a high-risk missing person or missing child
  • Contacting the appropriate state agencies to request assistance and determine whether a cooperative effort is necessary
  • Alerting (with parental consent) the National Abduction Group, in the case of an abducted child

Following missing person investigative guidelines and procedures, which include:

  • Interviewing the reporting person
  • Investigating the potential crime scene and interviewing witnesses
  • In the case of a child custody situation, verify custody status and examine court orders regarding current custody matters
  • Identifying the circumstances of the disappearance
  • Determining when, where and with whom the missing person was last seen
  • Interviewing all individuals who last had contact with the missing person
  • Developing a list of known family members, friends, co-workers and associates for interviews
  • Obtaining a detailed description of the missing person
  • Relaying detailed descriptive information to the appropriate dispatch center for broadcast to all appropriate law enforcement agencies
  • Ensuring that the missing person information is entered into all missing persons databases
  • Thoroughly investigating and searching in a logical and systematic manner
  • Canvassing the area for potential witnesses and interviewing as necessary
  • Obtaining items that may contain DNA from the missing person’s belongings (when applicable)
  • Conducting a criminal history check on all principal suspects and participants in the investigation
  • Utilizing media outlets, when necessary

Eurosurveillance CI has developed a very good program of researching and tracing missing persons. We are also members of the National Abduction Action Group, run by State Police and various social services and non-governmental authorities.