The internet has become a valuable resource in the search for missing persons, and crime solving in general. Besides national television, it is the only media source that reaches the entire nation and beyond. Before the internet, missing people were only seen in their local area, usually on posters and flyers. Years ago, missing children were featured on milk cartons, but there wasn’t anywhere for someone to go to search through lists of missing people and look for a familiar face.
Many cases, including a recent case where a kidnapped boy found his own picture on the internet, have been solved through cyberspace. Like the recent case, many family abduction cases have been solved by someone recognizing a familiar face. For a family looking for a missing loved one, or someone who thinks they might have seen a missing person, there are hundreds of resources on the internet. For children, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children lists almost all the cases that are on file with a Law Enforcement Agency. This is not only a valuable resource for the public, but also other Law Enforcement agencies who wish to inquire about cases that fit a specific profile.
The Doe Network features many cases that are on other websites, but we also feature cases that might not have otherwise been seen online. Recently, I came across a news article that mentioned a 13 year old girl, missing from a New England state in 1974. Knowing most of the cases that are listed on NCMEC, I checked the Doe Network’s missing persons cases. The case wasn’t listed, so we checked into it to see if it had been solved. Our area director spoke to the investigator who informed her the case was still very active, and we’re looking into getting the details to add the case. Had I not come across this article, I would have never known that the case was out there. I already have a few Jane Does in mind that may fit what I know about this missing girl. Hopefully, we can help investigators give this case the jump start it needs to be solved.
Those are just a few examples of how the internet is so very important to get the word out there, get the case publicized, and get cases solved. Many states do not have internet listings of missing people, especially missing adults. Of those that do, many are incomplete or outdated. Hopefully, as the world sees how important the internet is, state websites of missing people, as well as unidentifieds will grow. Doe Network members have begun to take this project on themselves, such as Kat and Tracie, two of our Maryland and New York representatives. As word grows, I suspect we’ll see more missing persons online databases, and hopefully more cases solved.
Author: Dana Gonzalez