What to do if a Loved One Goes Missing

Regardless of the age of the person, this should be done immediately. It is especially important if the person suffers from a health condition, disability, or impairment.

Do not disturb any rooms or vehicles belonging to the person. There might be information or evidence that investigators need.

Secure all electronic devices belonging to the person (cell phone, laptop, tablet, etc.). Do not attempt to gather information from the devices yourself. It is best to allow law enforcement to retrieve data from the devices and any social media accounts.


- a detailed physical description of the missing person, including scars, birthmarks, tattoos, and piercings -current photographs of the missing person

- a description of any vehicles the person may be driving -the date, time, and location that the person was last seen

- the last individual(s) to be seen with the person

- a list of any medications the person is required to take on a daily basis

Write down the name of the officer who takes the report as well as his/her ID, telephone number and the police report number. Ask the officer to get back with you to provide the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) file number and contact information number.

Keep a notebook and record all information on the investigation for future reference.

If a child is missing, you should call the NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST. They offer many resources for families. You can visit their website at http://www.missingkids.com.

Register your loved one with the Missing Person Database of NaMus (Missing and Unidentified Persons System) at https://namus.gov/. NamUs is a free online system that can be searched by medical examiners, coroners, law enforcement officials and the general public from all over the country in hopes of resolving missing person cases.


You may be asked questions that will make you uncomfortable. Try to remember that the goal is to find your missing loved one. Providing honest and accurate information is crucial.

Law enforcement may ask you to withhold certain information from the media.

Always work with a reputable advocacy organization for help with creating a flyer to share on social media and printed copies to disseminate in your community. A good advocacy group will also be able to assist you with media contacts, resources in your area, and other elements vital to the case.

Be prepared for there to be a media interest in the case. It may seem intrusive, but helpful in finding the missing person.

Law enforcement may not always be able to share information with you in order to protect the investigation.

Things may be posted on social media or the news before law enforcement has contacted you. Always check with law enforcement to ensure the validity of the information.

Keep in touch with law enforcement, but allow them time to do their job. Their priority is finding your loved one.

You must take care of yourself while your loved one is missing.

Try to eat regular meals and get enough sleep.

Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends and family.

Try not to blame yourself for your loved one's disappearance.

Comments on social media may be upsetting to read. Please realize that those commenting likely don't know you or your family. It will be difficult, but try not to take negative comments personally. If it becomes difficult, it's best to avoid these sites altogether.

If you are considering hiring a private investigator, make sure they are properly licensed in your state and ask for references. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau. Let law enforcement know about your plans.

You may be contacted by psychics offering to help bring your loved one home. Be especially careful when you are approached. These individuals may give false hope and unrealistic expectations to your family.

If you have children, try to keep the lines of communication open with them. They may feel confused and frightened. Do your best to reassure them.

Don't be afraid to seek the help of a professional therapist to help you with the storm of emotions you are feeling during this time.


Most importantly, don't give up hope. We are here to help every step of the way!

Email us at help@missingpiecesnetwork.org or send a private message on Facebook. We will reply with the information needed to assist you.

©2017 Missing Pieces Network

Missing Pieces Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization comprised of experienced victim's advocates and volunteers.