How to Find a Missing Person Free of Charge

By Emma Riley Sutton

  • Overview

    Few things are scarier than when someone you care about is missing, especially in the case of a child. Not knowing what had happened can be agony, whether he's simply "out of pocket" or if some evidence of foul play was found. Your whole life is put on hold as you try to find him and get the answers to all your questions. This isn't the time to worry about finances and how that could affect finding him.
    • Step 1

      Obtain all the information about the missing person. Know her height, weight, hair and eye color. Remember any distinguishing marks such as tattoos and scars. Contact her dentist to get her dental records. Remember every possible detail about the missing person; it is impossible to know what trivial piece of information may be the key to finding her.
    • Step 2

      Contact friends and relatives. Find out if the missing person is with someone they know. Learn when the last time the friends and family saw the missing person. Find out what state of mind the missing person was in. Ask if the friends and family members thought anything was strange about seeing the missing person. Perhaps the missing person was nervous, frightened or ill.


    • Step 3

      Contact local authorities. Normally, it is necessary that a person be missing at least 24 hours before the police will actively be involved in trying to find him. There can exceptions to this such as when the person is ill, has dimensioned mental abilities, or if any evidence of foul play is found. Tell the police, sheriff's department and other local authorities about the missing person. Stay calm. Give them the information you have gotten from friends and family--as well a description of the person who is missing. Give them the most recent picture of the missing person, preferably a close-up face shot. If you have photos of any distinguishing marks, give them to the authorities as well.
    • Step 4

      Contact area hospitals to see if anyone with the name of the missing person has been there. Also ask if anyone matching her description has been seen there. Include your contact information so anyone who might have additional information can call you.
    • Step 5

      Contact federal agencies. It is not necessary to wait for the local authorities to contact federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations. You can and should do this yourself. Give them all the information you have regarding the missing person, just as you did with the local authorities.
    • Step 6

      Contact the media. Area television and radio stations--as well as newspapers and Internet news sources--need to be contacted. Give them all the information you have available, unless instructed by the authorities not to do this. Make sure they have a current picture of the missing person. Consider contacting cable news stations as well, especially if the local media does not seem to be helping. Be persistent.
    • Step 7

      Use the Internet. Unless told not do so by the authorities, post all the information on Websites, especially those devoted to sharing information and finding missing people. See the Resources section for contact information.
    • Step 8

      Contact missing persons organizations. America's Most Wanted and others actively search for missing persons. Again, share all the information you have unless instructed not to do so.
    • Step 9

      Start a grassroots search effort. Make flyers and post them everywhere you can. Have friends, relatives and neighbors search the area where the missing person was last seen. Knock on doors and go to hang outs of the missing person. Share the information you have about the missing person, unless instructed not to by the local authorities.
    • Skill: Challenging
    • Tip: Follow the directions of the authorities. They have experience finding missing persons and should be listened to.

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