If a loved one goes missing, it can be a scary and overwhelming experience. The first 72 hours are crucial. This is the period when important information and evidence can be gathered, which can help increase the chances of finding your loved one and bringing them home safely. To ensure you’re taking the right steps during this critical time, it’s important to have a checklist of actions to take. This guide provides such a checklist, including steps such as contacting law enforcement, gathering information, preserving evidence, and enlisting help from others. By following these steps outlined here, you can increase the chances of a successful outcome in a missing person’s case.
The First 72 Hours Are Crucial
Do not wait as time is extremely important:
- Contact local law enforcement ASAP.
- Gather and track any information.
- Preserve any evidence if you have.
- Call in help from family, friends, community and victim service advocates.
Contact Law Enforcement
- File missing persons’ report:
- Full name of person including any nicknames or aliases.
- Date of birth.
- Description of person, i.e. height, weight, eye and hair color.
- Tattoos, birthmarks, scars, physical disability, etc.
- Description of clothing.
- Any medical conditions they may have, i.e. diabetes, mental health disability, etc.
- Any prior incidents of stalking or harassment.
- Any suspicion of Facebook, Twitter or other social media activities.
- Get the officer’s name, badge ID, phone number and police report number.
- Contact other departments of transportation such as train, bus, airport or border patrol.
- Inform law enforcement of 1 or 2 designated points of contact.
Gather Additional Information
- Notify the police if you have additional information:
- Where person was last seen.
- Were they with someone or supposed to meet with someone?
- Who saw them last, note their name, address if possible and phone number.
- Tribal affiliation and Tribal ID number if known.
- Person’s vehicle description, color, make, model, license number.
- Items they left behind, i.e. phone, wallet, ID.
- Is it possible person may want to be missing?
- Do you suspect any foul play in person’s disappearance and why?
- Any history of domestic violence, threats, harassment, did they fear anyone or were they a witness to a crime?
- Does person take medications regularly for either medical or mental condition?
- Is person a danger to self or others?
- Any unusual behavior outside of their normal, i.e. not picking up the children, missing work or appointments.
- Person’s usual places they go, i.e. work, school, bar, restaurants, etc.
- People they normally see or call regularly.
Preserve Any Important Evidence
- Take pictures of the area, if possible.
- Make note of everything you can remember prior to person missing.
- Limit access to the area where they were seen last.
- Give law enforcement bank & phone records and social media account numbers.
- Touch or move anything.
- Clean up their home, vehicle or area they were last seen.
- Throw anything away.
- Delete or alter anything on their phone or social media accounts, etc.
Enlist Help From Others
- Call other family, friends or co-workers.
- Ask for help with tasks such as:
- Call hospitals, jails, shelters, or churches.
- Make flyers with identifying information, photo, date missing, location and number to call with any information.
- Post flyers, especially in areas where there’s a lot of traffic or activities.
- Contact news stations.
- Create social media page if possible.
In summary, if a person goes missing, it’s important to act quickly. Contact law enforcement and file a missing person’s report with detailed information about the person’s appearance, medical conditions, and any prior incidents of stalking or harassment. Gather additional information about the person’s last known whereabouts, and preserve any important evidence in the area where they were last seen. Enlist help from family, friends, and victim service advocates, and consider creating flyers or a social media page to raise awareness about the missing person. Following these steps can help increase the chances of finding the missing person and bringing them home safely.
Help Spread Awareness
Current Missing Person Cases
A’Miah Harmoni Nappo
“Kit” “Nylonna” Mora
Ziara Irene Arnold
Tina Marie Finley
Missing Persons Clearinghouse
Tanea Parmenter, Missing Persons Clearinghouse Manager
STOP Violence Program / MMIP
160 11th Street
Plummer, Idaho 83851
Monday – Friday
8AM – 4:30PM
National Domestic Hotline