Investigating Disappeared Individuals

Millions of people disappear worldwide due to human rights violations and organized crime. Activists, relatives of those who have disappeared, and key witnesses are often targeted.


Investigations into missing persons are often complex and require professional help beyond what law enforcement can provide. North American Investigations has helped clients locate children, friends and relatives who have gone missing up to fifty years ago.

1. Identifying the Person

If someone you know disappears, report them to the authorities immediately. This will give investigators the best chance to interview eyewitnesses in the critical first 48 hours. You can also provide law enforcement with information 흥신소 about the missing person’s bank, dentist, family members, and other people they talk to regularly. It’s best to refrain from throwing away or discarding any of this personal information, though, as it may prove useful in finding them later on.

Another great place to start is asking the person’s closest friends and family about their whereabouts. If they’re being coy or closed off, that’s a red flag. It’s important to be honest and transparent when questioning them, as this will make it more likely that they reveal some kind of clues about what happened.

Other strategies include canvassing local homeless shelters and mental health facilities, particularly if you know that the missing individual has a history of struggling with these types of issues. You can also post pictures of the person online and ask others to do the same. Sticking up homemade flyers around places that they’re known to frequent or in which they might reasonably be expected to turn up can also work.

2. Identifying the Cause

While database searches and other technology can be useful, the key is to interview people who knew the person before they disappeared. This includes family and friends, as well as colleagues. It is a good idea to write notes during these conversations to keep track of what was said, as it can be easy to forget. 흥신소

Enforced disappearances are crimes committed by government forces or armed groups against political opponents, human rights defenders and others who challenge the regime. In such cases, the disappearance is almost always followed by a cover-up by local and/or national authorities. This enables the perpetrators to escape responsibility, and in many instances local journalists are censored or banned from reporting on the case.

The work of investigating disappearances can be distressing, challenging and even dangerous. It can involve looking at mass graves, or working with victims who have been subjected to physical and psychological torture. For this reason it is important for investigative reporters to have a support network and to seek external help when required. In addition, it is essential to understand that the work of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances and its partners in regional accountability mechanisms is complementary to national efforts to address the problem of disappeared individuals.

4. Identifying the People

Reporting a missing person to police is a critical first step. It allows detectives to begin interviewing eyewitnesses while the case is still fresh and while the disappeared person’s physical description is still in their mind.

Reports should be comprehensive, detailing the disappearance’s circumstances and including a full physical description (including any scars, marks, or tattoos) and a list of friends, relatives, and associates. Providing dental and medical records, computer social networking information, and financial transaction details can help investigators build a timeline of the disappeared person’s activity.

If the disappeared person is considered vulnerable (for example, a child or senior citizen), or their disappearance raises suspicion of foul play, law enforcement should consider requesting an expedited search. Getting the media involved is also an important strategy. This can spread awareness across a wider geographic area in a shorter time, as well as generate leads from locals who may recognize the individual or have heard about their disappearance. Involving local television stations is especially effective because most channels are always looking for stories to air.

5. Identifying the Situation

The families of those who have disappeared endure an agonising uncertainty. The emotional distress can be compounded by the financial implications of not knowing when, or if, their loved one will return. The absence of the family breadwinner may lead to material deprivation and, in some cases, national laws prevent them from drawing a pension without a death certificate.

Often disappearances have links to organized crime. Journalists can act as both a deterrent to this kind of criminal conduct and public-minded investigators, particularly where state and rule of law have broken down. Organizations such as Reporters Without Borders’ Journalists’ Guide to Organised Crime and Human Trafficking and Amnesty International focus on issues relating to organised crime, missing persons and enforced disappearances.

Relatives and friends can provide valuable information, especially in cases involving illegal activities such as drug smuggling or human trafficking. It is important to be aware of the risks of relying on these sources, however, and fact-checking should be an essential step in any investigation. A good starting point is checking for data patterns, such as an alias name (also known as a synthetic identity) found in different online platforms.