A “Missing Persons” investigation is, simply put, a search for an individual who has not been seen or heard from in a reasonable amount of time and for reasons unknown, cannot be contacted through conventional methods. “Missing Person” itself is a fairly ambiguous term, as such, many cases are initially categorized under this open-ended category until sufficient information has been gathered to allow for more accurate binning. Many times a “missing person” is categorized as a “skip trace”, which may technically be accurate in some instances. A skip is a more specific categorization which denotes a degree of deliberate effort to be undetected. Conversely, a missing person is typically a more generalized term and loosely applied to most any case where a person is not where they are expected to be (for more information about investigating a skip, please visit section titled “skip trace”).
A person can be considered “missing” for a range of reasons; from the innocuous such as an incorrect phone number/email address, out of date home address or to the nefarious such as fraud, deceit or even foul play. Sometimes the client will be a relative looking to reconnect with a long lost loved one, or occasionally a business partner intending to bring a con-artist to justice. Individuals wishing to avoid being served with subpoenas or process paperwork may go to great lengths to maintain their anonymity, disconnecting phone service, deleting their social media footprint and convincing associates to lie on their behalf. In cases where the target has incentive to remain concealed from detection, finding new leads may prove difficult around this point in the investigation.
In virtually all cases, the approach to handling the investigation for a missing person begins in the same manner. The investigation team will attempt to gather as much information about their intended mark from known sources and develop a logical method to generate fresh leads. Occasionally, surveillance or undercover work is required to obtain positive identification of a person of interest.