What to do if someone is believed missing

No one is ever prepared for the nightmare that comes when someone you love goes missing. The experience is frustrating as law enforcement often doesn’t have the time or expertise to pursue cases where there are few or nonexistent leads. But here are some steps you can take:


  1. Contact law enforcement. File a missing persons report with the law enforcement agency where the person is believed to be missing from. Provide as much detail as possible, including any medical or dental records that could help establish an identity if a body is found, and DNA swaps from family members. Ask that case information be sent to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons Systems.
  2. Contact your local coroner or medical examiner if you think its possible the missing person could be dead. They may be able to take a DNA sample from a family member or the person’s belongings to be compared against the DNA of any unidentified remains. 
  3. Use the NamUs national database to update any information about the missing person.
  4. If it’s a child that is missing, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, they have a 24 hour hotline at 800-THE-LOST or 800-843-5678.
  5. Contact the National Runaway Safeline which has a 24-hour hotline focused on at-risk and homeless youth. The service describes itself as confidential and nonjudgmental, with the goal of developing plans for easing youth out of what may be dangerous situations. Their hotline is 800-RUN-AWAY or 800-786-2929.
  6. Check out this quick reference guide, that recommends how to inspect a child’s computer, belongings and other evidence of his or her whereabouts.
  7. Contact organizations and nonprofits which may help organize teams of volunteers to help search for people. Some can help with missing persons fliers and distribution of them. In Pueblo, contact the #KELSIEAlert system through this website or sister Facebook page for attention to the case on facebook and other media.
  8. Contact the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, also known as NamUs, this database was launched in 2007 with Justice Department support to better match reports of missing people with the unidentified dead. If you’re unsure whether police have sent NamUs your missing persons report, you can upload the case information on your own once you have a police report number and a missing persons report.
  9. Contact the mainstream media and consider joining online web sleuths such aWebsleuths.com and DoeNetwork.org, communities compare notes about ongoing cases and help each other search for new clues across the Internet.
  10. Don’t give up home, network with other victims and families. Colorado has a group where families meet once a year or more called – Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons, they are on facebook.
  11. Join other families at Missing Persons Day February 4th each year, a day that Laura Saxton, mother of missing Kelsie Schelling, whom #KELSIEAlerts was named after lobbied for on behalf of all friends and families of missing persons.

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