Many people go missing every year, in the United States. reporting the highest number. According to the NCIC, 521,705 were reported missing in 2021. Although this is the lowest number of missing persons recorded in U.S. history, it’s pretty substantial compared to other countries worldwide.
A large percentage of missing persons includes children who go missing through kidnapping. According to Child Find of America, 2,300 children are reported missing every day in the U.S.
A missing loved one is your first priority, but your local law enforcement agency’s focus might be elsewhere. If a loved one disappears, you need to take immediate action. Since local law enforcement agencies aim to ensure the safety of your entire community, they often fail to prioritize missing person cases over more tangible crimes. According to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), 17,000 law enforcement agencies operate within the U.S., many of which don’t have the time or money to tackle missing person reports. This leaves hundreds of families directionless in their quests for answers.
Additionally, many missing children cases actually turn out to be custodial abductions. While still a serious crime, large urban police agencies, with certainly more resources in manpower and technology, are often forced to triage these investigations to address a greater volume of service calls.
Thankfully, a private investigator, especially one provided by Legal Eye Investigations, LLC can more fully commit to finding your missing family member.
The critical issue for parents and caregivers is time. Only a private investigator can move quickly when time is of the essence. Police officers must follow very strict missing person investigation guidelines because manpower is limited and often these investigations can be very broad in scope.
So how can a private investigator help YOU with your missing person case?
First, law enforcement agencies are simply overwhelmed
Second, the police are given incentives to prioritize other issues. Policing.com explains that police priorities are dictated by state and federal legislation rather than by the specific problems of each separate neighborhood.
Third, missing children cases are widely considered more urgent than reports of missing persons over 18 years of age. Amber alerts, along with programs like the NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), bring exposure to missing children — exposure that missing adult cases lack.
However, there are other law enforcement resources in place that you can consult if a loved one over eighteen has disappeared. For starters, the CUE Center for Missing Persons allows you to quickly file a report to find your missing person through local law enforcement. Next, you should make an account with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System — NamUs, for short — which provides the “necessary bridge” between you and professional assistance, according to the NIJ.
NamUs compiles information found by coroners, anthropologists, police, and families to create a centralized system that’s accessible to all parties. Additionally, it sends emails to loved ones when their cases have been updated, assists them in conducting free forensics tests, and allows them to print missing person posters. But once you’ve consulted these resources, all you can do is wait. Unless, of course, you hire a private investigator.
If there’s a missing person in your life, they deserve attention. Law enforcement agencies, despite their best efforts, can’t guarantee that you’ll get it — but private investigators can.
For years, Legal Eye Investigations has provided families with top-notch private eyes, fully focused on their assigned missions. Equipped with a wide range of tactics to lead you to your loved one, our private investigators are able to circumvent many restrictions faced by law enforcement. Their approaches will be more thorough than those of your local law enforcement agency and can also be customized to your unique concerns and desires.
Patience may be a virtue, but when it comes to missing persons, you shouldn’t have to wait. While we always encourage you to first notify the police, hiring a private investigator through Legal Eye Investigations will get you immediate and effective assistance. And in many instances, our Legal Eye agents can act as a liaison between you and the police, improving communications and results.
To speak with a licensed investigator with Legal Eye Investigations, LLC please call our office at 410-921-5804 or fill out one of our online forms to start a MISSING PERSON investigation.
Questions to ask your Investigator
Why would parents/guardians consider hiring a Private Investigator when they have the local police department?
There are multiple answers to this question. Before beginning, you must understand the function of law enforcement is “reactionary” and “categorized” based on certain levels of priority. These priorities can vary wildly from agency to agency and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. You cannot control what the agency prioritizes for your missing child. Many factors go into this such as age, risk factors, mental health, circumstances surrounding the event, etc.
A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR that you hire is YOUR advocate, YOUR tool to solve YOUR issue. They don’t work for the government, they don’t work for anyone but YOU so they can explain things at your level, walk you through the steps, prepare, prevent, and work at all levels of the investigation.
I am not trying to bad-mouth any law enforcement agency. They are all undermanned, stressed, overly busy, and always under the gun to produce. That being said, there are just too many “human” failures that can occur in trusting such a situation. This is not the time to relax and “Give it to God”…this is a time to act and act QUICKLY.
What can a Private Investigator do to look into a missing child in the first 24 hours of that child missing?
This question is probably better suited by asking what can a private investigator NOT do. Listen, your investigator probably (and should) have knowledge of how law enforcement works, how government agencies work, and obviously how to go about his or her investigation from the private sector.
The good part about hiring a private investigator is they are licensed by the government so which affords them access to things that you might not be able to access or that you might not even have knowledge of, PLUS they are a citizen, just like you. What does that do? Sworn law enforcement officers take an oath and have many legal restrictions both by law and by case law (procedural items that are created based on legal decisions). As a citizen AND a private investigator, a much more “gray” area can be accessed. Things law enforcement might need a warrant for, or have procedural things that slow them down, can easily be accessed by your investigator.
This truly helps not to waste time on dead ends. Yes, laws need to be followed and your investigator should have integrity but in emergency situations like this, you should be able to trust your investigator to be able to get you the fastest answers to questions you may have.
Can Private Investigators access the child’s social media and phone?
This is a very dicey question. The short answer is NO. There are exceptions to this being if the child’s social media is open to the public (most common) or there is a way to access it through say someone who is already on the child’s social media. For instance, the child’s friends should be contacted and immediately determined if they are on the child’s social media. Most parents would be sympathetic to your plight and gain their child’s access to help in recovering your child.
When it comes to phones let's first take a preemptive approach here and let me state your child is just that A CHILD. Do not buy into this worldview being pushed that they have some sort of rights over an adult. They do not. You are the parent. Do not get yourself in this position where your child is missing and you cannot access their phone. You should be routinely checking your child’s phone. This is not a trust factor, this is good parenting even if you trust your child. Additionally, most phones have “GPS” finders in them (Apple’s is called FIND MY PHONE) so they should be routinely checked and verified that they are on.
If you are in a split parenting relationship please discuss and plan for this. A plan should be in place with the other parent/guardian if they control the phone/phone bill. As to why you need to do this: It is highly illegal for someone to break into a phone other than those who have access to the phone. As an investigator, I avoid these scenarios as they can lead to Federal wiretapping and communications law violations. The best bet is to be prepared for this and at least have some access to what your child is doing on their phone, online, and with any electronics. There are some great apps out there also for parenting controls, locations, etc.
Can Private Investigators look into cold cases of children who have been unfortunately missing for years?
We refer to these cases as “cold cases” and yes, many investigators in the private sector work on missing person cases well past law enforcement. Truly, this is the only way an old case gets worked with true investigative passion. Missing person cases will quickly gather dust (metaphorically) in a law enforcement scenario. You have to remember, with each day that passes that agency is getting more and more cases, some of which push your case to a lower priority. It is sad but honestly, this brings us back to why you need to get an advocate, a private investigator, on your case immediately.
Do Private Investigators work with lawyers?
Investigators do with attorneys and a sign of a good attorney is one who utilizes investigators. There are many reasons for this but mostly for monetary reasons. Attorneys can use investigators and bill for work “they did”. Attorneys that truly see the power of the investigative tool will not just utilize investigators for more numbers on their billing but truly because solving their client’s cases should be paramount. If that isn’t the case with your attorney, find a new one!
The relationship between attorneys and investigators should be symbiotic. Depending on where you are living this can vary wildly. Many older attorneys have utilized investigators for most of their careers. Younger attorneys might not know the tricks of the trade yet. Don’t hesitate in asking and inquiring about the investigative practices of your attorney’s office. Don’t hesitate to have your investigator contact your attorney!
Can Private Investigators work out of state or out of the country?
This is a tricky question. From place to place there are rules and laws governing investigators and sometimes there are NO rules or laws governing investigators. It is up to your investigator to discuss what needs to be done. Remember, an investigator is just a civilian like you so there is no reason an investigator can’t join your case. The issue comes down to if that jurisdiction has some rule or law that might affect something of evidence for court purposes only. In law enforcement, this is called the “fruit of the poisonous tree” basically meaning evidence that was obtained illegally is subject to a judge deciding if it can be admissible as evidence. Private investigators aren’t policed so many of these things don’t apply but it is something to discuss. As citizens, we can stumble onto evidence and still have it admissible but the best way is to not have these issues, to begin with!
Many investigators are great networkers so there are ways to get around licensing issues. Some jurisdictions offer reciprocity to their license and some places offer temporary licenses. These really are going to vary wildly. The best way I have found is through my networking to utilize a local, licensed, and insured agency and “consult” with them. That way if the rare chance there is an evidentiary issue that will be moot with the local liaison
When your child goes missing. Does the Private Investigator work with police or do they conduct their own separate research?
Have you ever seen “Smokey and the Bandit”? Does Jackie Gleason’s character look like someone who’d work with a private investigator? Much like the question about working in other jurisdictions this question can vary wildly. That being said I’ve had great investigations working...hand and hand with local and federal agencies. I’ve also had horrible experiences with, the “get off my case” type of law enforcement. It really is going to be on the shoulders of your local law enforcement if they are going to want to work with your investigator or not.
That is okay though. Your investigator should be working on an independent and separate investigation. Sure there are parallels and in the case of emergency or evidentiary situations, your investigator will need to be in contact with officials. That being said, you want fresh eyes and those eyes working for you. You don’t want tainted eyes that might be loathing an open-minded investigation. These are really two very separate things and should be conducting separate investigations that hopefully meet with a positive outcome. Regardless of who solves the case, this is your child! Winning is having your child safe and home. If the alternative happens you won’t care about any of the above. Let us not forget the ultimate goal.
If they find a child, can the Private Investigator bring the child back or do they contact the parent(s) or police?
I personally believe that keeping the child in place, bearing a medical or dangerous situation, is best. Obviously, if the child needs medical attention that is paramount and if danger is still prevalent then removing them from that danger is priority number one. The location also might have something to do with moving the child or possibly circumstances. For sake of the question let us say there are none of those then your best bet is to contact the parent (ie your client) and after discussing the matter have them contact the police (or you). Staying in place with the child can help the law enforcement’s case if there is evidence to be saved and preserved and/or if there is an arrest that will be made. Scene integrity is huge for law enforcement and for court purposes. Keeping the child in one place, bearing all the above issues, will always be best. I also like to keep the child’s contacts to a minimum with anyone other than the parent or law enforcement.