Misunderstandings, lack of communication, wrong-headed assumptions, rumors, they all contribute to missed opportunities. When it comes to homicide and missing person families, often time is of the essence. Healing is delayed, suffering is prolonged when a victim does not understand the scope, the nuances of this journey. Yes, there is much pain and necessary lessons learned along the way. But, the good news is that you are not alone!
Fallacy: You must wait 24 to 72 hours before reporting a missing person.
Myths still prevail that you must wait 24 to 72 hours before reporting any person missing.
The fact is, there is no waiting period to report a person missing to police. There are also myths that all adult missing persons are the victims of kidnaping, murders or some other criminal act.
For Example In Las Vegas: Thousands of Americans are reported missing each year in the United States. Here in Las Vegas, an average of 5-7 adult persons are reported missing each day, and more than 200 a month.
There are many reasons why a person voluntarily disappears including mental illness, depression, substance abuse, credit problems, abusive relationships, marital discord, and “foul play.” The fact is, being a voluntary missing person is not a crime. Therefore, because being a missing person is not a crime, initially, police are given a very limited role while conducting these types of investigations, unless foul play is suspected, or the person is considered endangered for medical reasons.
This reality is, people may leave of their own accord, free from intrusion and it is the most frustrating aspect for families who know in their hearts that their loved one would not, “just leave.”
Fallacy: Police can’t share information with others who are credible and want to assist, because it’s under active investigation. Police need to comply with the Sunshine or Open Records Law in their jurisdiction.
The truth is, when cases go cold, they are not all under active investigation, particularly when department have limited resources.
They may say this in order to try to maintain jurisdiction without interference from others, particularly if no one has dealt with the case several years.
This is why it is imperative to seek the advice of a skilled, experienced victim advocate or non-profit organization such as the CUE Center for Missing Persons http://www.ncmissingpersons.org in order to get them involved early to learn the victimology of the missing person, gather facts and work collaboratively with local and state law enforcement.
Some states have been proactive in terms of allowing victim families a longer period to file wrongful death lawsuits under the Federal Freedom of Information Act and state public record laws when there is no question of intentional violence.
Example – Illinois -Molly’s Law-
As of July 2016, Molly’s Law is comprised of two pieces of legislation, HB 6083 and HB 4715. HB 6083 extends the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases and allows a lawsuit to be brought within 5 years after the date of the death or within one year after the criminal case against the perpetrator concludes.
In addition, House Bill 4715 provides for additional fines – up to $1,000 per day — in cases where a public body fails to comply with a court order resulting from a FOIA action. It also incentivizes public bodies to act in a timely manner in response to binding opinions from the Attorney General in FOIA cases.
Fallacy: If your police department does not take immediate action your local news media will assist.
News organizations operate under breaking news stories as a priority. In general, a missing person is not a breaking news story unless there are extenuating circumstances. In the vast majority of cases, unless the person is a celebrity or the family has influence, missing person reports are released to the media by law enforcement and not news organizations solely. If the missing person is a child, or has an urgent medical condition such as an intellectual disability or cognitive impairment such as dementia, these reports will be publicized as alerts.
Falliacy: My family member isn’t really a missing person as he/she didn’t “get lost.” He/she was involved in a crime.
In fact, many missing persons may go missing as a consequence of a particular way of life that may escalate out of control with unintended consequences. No matter what the circumstances of their “gone missing status,” this should not diminish the effort for locating the person. All people matter! No judgement should be made by law enforcement or any other assisting organization. However, the fact is, the family members can be the missing person’s best advocate by keeping their case in the public eye with proper guidance from experienced missing persons advocates.
Fallacy: “My loved one was only missing for three weeks and the homicide was solved so I’d feel out-of-place.”
No, you’re NEVER out-of-place with organizations such as the Cue Center! They embrace all families in which there has been a missing person, with or without a crime committed. There may be other tragic circumstances such as accidental drowning, or suicide that may be the final outcome. There are no timetables for grief, healing and the experience of trauma. Missing persons organizations exist to help families heal, find resolution and renewed purpose! You become part of an extended family.
In order to get the full spectrum of what the Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons is all about, I encourage you to explore the following information – The recent Conference preview via Shattered Lives Radio podcast (Conference dates – March 21-24,2019 in Wilmington, NC)
“Every Missing Person is Someone’s Child”
Podcast Link- http://tobtr.com/11180497;
Additional References: https://www.lvmpd.com/en-us/Pages/MissingPersons-Adults.aspx
If you need assistance with writing a professional Victim Impact Statement, please refer to the Victim Impact Statement FAQ’s on this site.
To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or conference please contact:
ImaginePublicity, Telephone: 843.808.0859 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org