Investigating Disappeared Individuals

Investigating disappeared individuals can be very challenging. Some people deliberately disappear to avoid alimony or child support payments, others may be hiding from dangerous or abusive people.


Once a report has been filed, investigators will search hospitals and jails, check the missing person’s phone or computer social media accounts, and canvass their home and work areas.


Staging is the process of arranging something for a specific effect. Examples of staging include the way a theater production is staged, how a home is arranged for sale, or how cancer patients are staged for treatment. In the context of disappearances, staging can be used to deceive police investigators 흥신소 or create a false sense of security for a family.

One example of staging is Arthur Fellig, known as “Weegee.” He was a famous photojournalist who raced to crime scenes to be the first to arrive and would alter the position of the body to achieve a better photographic effect. This was a form of “elaborate” staging, where an increased amount of time and effort is put into the staging.

Another example is verbal staging, where an offender will file a missing person report that is not true to redirect the investigation away from a homicide that they know occurred. Verbal staging can also include blaming an associate for the incident or claiming injuries from self-defence.

Disruption in the Missing Person’s Normal Routine

Missing persons can experience a wide range of harms, ranging from death to the simple disruption and fear that arises when they are unaccounted for. Those who ca 흥신소 re about them can also suffer, enduring anxiety and stress if their loved ones are not returned safely. Moreover, the use of public safety resources to pursue missing persons can put others at risk—a police force investigating the disappearance of an elderly person or autistic child, for example, may consume hundreds of hours by patrol officers, emergency and rescue services, helicopter, dive team and canine-unit personnel.

Individuals impact the world around them through routine activities that leave evidence in their relationships, electronic footprints and personal and professional obligations, goals, expectations, travel plans and financial decisions. Investigators should consider the full extent of these activities when conducting an investigation into disappeared individuals to ensure that all relevant elements are examined.

In addition, it can be difficult for law enforcement to distinguish between cases that involve forced disappearances from those involving natural or voluntary absences. As a result, an investigation into a missing person may be relegated to the back of the police queue due to lack of priority or because it has been deemed not to be criminal in nature. This can lead to a delay in investigations and the loss of vital intelligence or evidence.


Millions of people disappear each year and organized crime—including drug trafficking, wildlife smuggling, human trafficking, and criminal rackets like prostitution—is a significant factor in many cases. Journalists can act as both deterrents to this kind of crime and public-minded investigators, particularly where the state and rule of law have broken down. This type of investigative work requires careful research and a keen eye to avoid the risks involved. Research can include examining similar cases, contacting experts who have worked on the region and understanding local crime dynamics.

One challenge is that murder is often hidden by a missing person investigation, which can be difficult to distinguish from homicide. In addition, the process of parsing out missing person incidents from broader offence categories is laborious and manual without a system in place to flag or label these occurrences as such.

Family members of a disappeared individual are also important sources to consider, especially if they know the local crime landscape and how criminal gangs operate in the area. It is important to note that these individuals may have information they do not want to share, and it is therefore essential to fact-check everything they say. They may even be colluding with criminals and should not be considered to be a trusted source.


Although abuse is well-recognized as a potential factor influencing missing persons, it is often overlooked in police reports. This may be due to a lack of awareness of the link, or a failure to report it because of fear of victimization. Abuse can include limiting the victim’s access to money or credit, keeping them off financial documents like car titles, and even physically harming them in order to prevent them from leaving their home.

Themes that emerged from the analysis of the data included:

Age, transientness, and health/mobility concerns were all linked to victimization risk. In cases where age was connected to victimization risk, it was often noted that the missing person had health and mobility issues resulting in them being vulnerable to attack or unable to move independently (for example, “a woman with dementia who wanders from her apartment”.)

Similarly, many files that referred to victimization risk included references to health concerns that were deemed as potentially causing an individual to be more likely to disappear, such as fetal alcohol syndrome or autism (e.g., “a male with Autism and behavioural problems, does not respond to staff &/or police”). This suggests that the connection between health/mobility and missing persons needs further investigation. A combination of qualitative thematic analysis and lifestyle exposure theory (LET) can offer a more rounded understanding of the factors that connect missing persons with victimization.