Missing Family Member: Search Tools & Resources

Dropping off the face of the earth is more complicated than ever, but what can you do if your family member goes MIA?

 The disappearance of a family member is one of the most painful experiences that can happen to a person. There are many categories for such cases. It could be that your parents or child have not returned from their hiking or skiing excursion. Or perhaps you are an adoptee and wish to find your birth parents, but every time you search, you come up empty. It could also be that your children’s father hasn’t been making child support payments, and you’re not sure where he might be. Usually, a person is deemed “legally dead” if they’ve been missing for over seven years and there isn’t evidence to suggest otherwise.

 If a person has been missing for more than seven years and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise, they are usually considered legally dead.In any case, for loved ones, the worrying and searching never end. This is a guide on what to do in the case of a missing family member and the resources you can use. If your loved one has gone missing, you’re probably terrified. Hopefully, this information will assist you in determining how to approach the situation.




Why do people disappear?

Anyone, irrespective of gender, age, race, or educational status, can go missing. Although there are obvious dangers associated with any missing incidence, some demographic groups are known to be more susceptible to harm while away. Furthermore, while children are more likely to go missing, adults are more likely to vanish for extended periods.

Some of the reasons why people go missing include:


Homeless people may face challenges that keep them from accessing secure and safe shelters. Every year, homeless programs assist over 100,000 people. Some top drivers of homelessness include domestic violence, poverty, and a shortage of affordable homes. Homelessness can result in a variety of health issues, along with social isolation and feelings of humiliation. If your loved one is homeless and you don’t know where they are, they are technically missing.

Mental health

There is a connection between psychological disorders and missing people. Research shows that some people vanish due to the effect of their mental health on their ability to handle adversity.

Some factors that can make mentally ill people disappear include frustrations with medical professionals, disagreements among family members about how to handle a mental health condition, not knowing where or how to seek help, or the conviction that there is no other option except to disappear. Some individuals vanish for a short period, others disappear repeatedly, and others go off the grid for an extended period, increasing the chance of run-ins with criminals.


Unfortunately, some people who vanish do so with the goal of killing themselves. There is often a clear sign that the individual plans to commit suicide. For example, they could have written a suicide note. In a few cases, determining whether the MIA individual left to commit suicide or merely went off to be alone for a bit and consolidate their thoughts may be challenging.


Misadventure can cause people to disappear in several ways. For example, people can disappear due to accidents, such as plane crashes, boating accidents, or hiking mishaps. In other scenarios, many families report missing loved ones after natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes. Still, some go missing due to criminal activity, such as kidnapping or human trafficking.


Miscommunication can lead to confusion or a lack of understanding in essential matters such as plans, safety, or care for loved ones, which can lead to loved ones being lost or separated. Miscommunication can also weaken relationships, making spouses or relatives want to take off.

Finding a missing adult?

Are you dealing with the case of a missing family member? The first thing on your mind is to notify the authorities, post flyers, and start a search team. And that’s a good thing, after all. Common sense dictates that the first few hours are critical to locating your loved one alive. But first, evaluate why this individual is gone. If you suspect they’ve been taken or are in urgent danger, contact the police immediately. But if you’re looking for someone you last talked to a minute ago, there are various services to help you find them.

Fill out a Missing Person Form

When someone goes missing and may be in trouble, start by filing a missing person’s report as soon as possible. Suppose it’s a missing child, dial 911. A search will be conducted in the hopes of finding the missing individual. If there’s no evidence of foul play and the subject is an adult, you may have to visit their community’s police station. The individual will then be added to a registry that other law enforcement agencies can see. Make sure you gather and share the following information:

● Full name

● Birth Certificate

● Birthdate and current age

● Both current and former addresses

● Weight, height, and hair color

● Eye color(s)

● Tattoos, braces, birthmarks, and other distinguishing features

● Employee ID

● Other IDs, such as work IDs,

● Driver’s license

After filing a police report, record the case number and officer’s name so you can reach out as needed to get updates on the case.

Make contact with anyone who knows the individual.

When gathering information, you’ll undoubtedly find information on others who know the person and can assist with the search. These include:

● Friends

● Classmates

● Friends

● Roommates

● Next-door neighbors

Find out what they know about your loved one’s whereabouts or where they last saw them. You can also ask what they last talked about and about any other connections not on your list.

Look in neighboring clinics and hospitals.

The person you’re looking for may have been injured and unable to get in touch with family. Check out all of the surrounding clinics and hospitals. If you cannot discover them by name, see if they’ve brought in any “John Does.”

Check local jails and prisons.

Your loved one could have been arrested and is now in jail. Visit local jails and prisons to see if they have any information. Contact the local police station to see whether the person is there.

Examine social media and online forums.

Platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as internet forums and websites, may have valuable information on your missing individual. Analyze their friend list, stories, photos, and everything else. Scrutinize the feeds of each friend for any postings, photos, or other information that may involve your loved one.

Drive around town.

If you have reason to suspect that the person you’re looking for is hiding or being held in the area, start canvassing—request assistance from relatives, friends, local volunteers, and law enforcement. Drive throughout the region, asking questions, hunting for clues, and putting up missing person posters.

See where their phone is located.

Fortunately for those looking for missing individuals, location-sharing is all the rage. If the vanished individual is close to someone, they’ll likely have info on their phone’s location. For example, iPhones come with a Family Sharing feature accessible through iCloud. If the individual has enabled the service, you’ll be able to locate them. For iOS and Android users, you can try the Find My Friends app. It would help if you also looked at Snapchat’s location feature. Many users share their location with their followers, and it refreshes every hour, offering a rough idea of where someone is.

Engage the media.

The media can disseminate the word and get more people involved in the hunt for the missing person. Place a free ad and share details and photos with the local TV and radio stations. Leave a video message if possible.

Check Missing Person Databases

Law enforcement officers across the country operate the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System to find and identify missing persons or their remains. The database is open to the public; sign up and add your information.

Retain the services of a private investigator.

If you’ve explored all other possibilities and come up with nothing, consider hiring a private investigator. PI services can help find a missing family member, mainly if the situation is complicated or you’ve exhausted all other avenues.

Private investigators use a combination of skills, methods, equipment, and technology to locate and recover missing people. These include:

● Physical search and surveillance

● Checking public records and conducting background checks on people

● Requesting government records, including information held by the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Internal Revenue Service

● Running SSN traces

● Interviewing possible witnesses, acquaintances, and family members and deducing critical information from their verbiage, tone, and body language

● Visiting hospitals and cemeteries for clues


Having a missing family member can be upsetting. It’s only natural that you may want to know their whereabouts. Private investigators use a combination of investigative and technological expertise and a vast network of information resources to help folks acquire information on missing loved ones. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

No matter the missing family member’s resources at your disposal, hiring a private investigator is always the smartest choice, especially if the person has been gone for quite a while. We are here to help. Our private investigator team comprises all former law enforcement professionals with experience from the DEA, FBI, IRS, and Secret Service. We employ various technologies and methods to help generate answers for families. Call us at 1-800-577-1080 or fill out our online form, and we’ll be happy to help you in your search.

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