On Tuesday, July 27, 2021, the community of Fruitland, Idaho has been impacted by the disappearance of a 5-year-old boy, Michael Vaughn. In a move that puzzled some citizens of Fruitland, Payette County opted to issue an endangered missing person alert for the missing boy rather than the more colloquially-known AMBER Alert. Michael is described as 3’7″ tall, 50 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue ‘minecraft’ shirt and dark blue boxer briefs with sandals.
Michael Vaughn was last seen on Tuesday in the area of SW 9th and Arizona around 6:30 p.m. It was only an hour before law enforcement was on the ground looking for Micahel, assisted by the fire department, EMS, helicopters, drones, and a throng of community volunteers. Despite their best efforts, these first searches yielded no answers for investigators. “The Fruitland Police Department would like to extend a sincere thanks to all of our partner first responders and our community for taking the time to help us thoroughly search the area,” Huff said, however, “I am asking citizen searchers to stay out of the area until the professional search crews are finished.”
Many wondered why investigators did not issue an AMBER Alert for Michael Vaughn when he was reported missing. After all, an Amber alert gives investigators the ability to send out a notification to all cell phones within a designated radius to increase the chances of discovering leads. However, law enforcement is typically very discerning when it comes to issuing AMBER Alerts. If AMBER Alerts are issued too liberally, their impact can be diminished as the notifications become part of the digital background noise in all of our lives. Therefore law enforcement adheres to strict critereia when it comes to AMBER Alerts, which is as follows:
A child is known by police to have been abducted.
The abduction occurred within 12 hours of initial rerport
Child is under 17
Investigators must suspect the child of being in immediate danger or loss of life.
There must be enough information regarding the disappearance to make the AMBER alert useful to public.
The missing child has been entered into NCIC.
In the event that a missing child case does not meet all of the above criteria, law enforcement is then able to issue an Endangered Missing Person Alert, which carries similar tools to that of the AMBER alert. These notifications are sent through email, text messages, social media posts, and the alerting program known as CodeRED. By 9:40 on the evening Michael Vaughn disappeared, investigators had expanded the notification of his disappearance nationwide.
When a loved one goes missing abroad, no stone can be left unturned. That’s why many families opt to have an independent investigator conduct a concurrent investigation with law enforcement after filing a missing person report. International missing person investigators must be ready with the right tools and experience for reference in a case that takes them abroad. Having the right language tools can be the difference between a lead and a dead end, and that’s why our investigators are sharing their favorite language apps to have handy during international investigations.
Google Translate is an old favorite amongst international missing person investigators because of how easy it is to translate a conversation taking place in the moment. The nature of private investigations can sometimes be very erratic, instantaneous, and require improvising on the part of the investigator. There may ample time to call in an interpreter in order to secure a lead. In other cases, the course of the investigation can shift very drastically, and the dual-lingual needs of the investigation may change. The user-friendly interface and features of Google Translate makes it very easy to get crucial information on the go. It should be noted that Google Translate is not infallible. Colloquialisms other local language can be radically different from Google Translate depending on the region and dialect. When there is doubt, a private investigator can always cross reference the translation.
Duolingo is one of the most popular language apps out there with over 200 million users. Duolingo’s interface is more like a mobile game app at times, allowing users to complete short lessons on the language of their choice. In an international missing person case, investigators may find Duolingo most helpful in being a crash course prior to the onset of the investigation. Each investigator will be the judge of their own dual-language needs for an investigation, but having Duolingo available is a great way to be introduced to a new language, or brush up on an old one.
This app lets users learn basic phrases and vocabulary while travelling abroad. The voice translator is this app’s best feature by far, which translates sentences in real time for investigators who are conducting interviews or recording for surveillance. This feature comes in handy in a pinch when there’s an emergency. The biggest drawback to TripLingo is that it is only available in 19 languages.
When conducting a missing person search in a country that does not use the 26-letter Phonetic alphabet, Waygo might be the way to go. Waygo’s interface deciphers pictures of scripted characters like those used in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. This can be critical when attempting to navigate or follow leads in the investigation.
iTranslate also has voice recognition technology that facilitates quick communications in international missing person investigations. It also allows you to take pictures of objects, and the interface will provide you with the word for that object. The app also allows you to text in over 100 languages, with an extensive dictionary and even verb conjugation.
Two decades have passed since sisters Diamond and Tionda Bradley disappeared without a trace. Both girls were last seen on July 6th, 2001, when their mother Tracey Bradley left for an early work shift at 6:30 am. The girls were ten and three years old respectively at the time of their unexplained disappearance.
Today, Diamond would be approaching her 24th Birthday, while Tionda would be 30 years of age. Following the realization that the two young sisters had gone missing, one of the biggest manhunts in the city of Chicago’s history was initiated. However today, the family of the two sisters continues to wait for answers in a case that—despite a number of twists and turns—has never provided much-needed closure.
The Trail Goes Cold
When Tracey Bradley returned home from work on July 6th, 2001—to the apartment she shared with her daughters near 35th and Cottage Grove in Chicago, Illinois—her two girls were nowhere to be found.
The sisters’ mother discovered a note from Tionda which said they had planned to walk to a store and Doolittle Elementary School, where the eldest was enrolled in summer school classes. Although children from the local neighborhood reported having seen the sisters playing nearby at around midday, Tionda did not attend class, and the girls were never seen again.
On the day that they went missing, Tionda’s hair was styled with green ponytail holders, and she bore the usual signs of a playful childhood—with a scrape on her left calf and a quarter-sized burn mark on her left arm. Diamond sported purple ponytail holders and was described as having a scar on the left side of her hairline at the time she went missing.
Inconclusive and False Leads
Two men were said to be of interest to the case, including a Middle Eastern man who was reported to have paid child support for one of the sisters and later learned that he was not her father. However, no conclusive evidence was ever declared to the public, nor charges brought. Not long after the sisters’ disappearance, a young girl was found—raising hopes for the frantic family—however, she was otherwise identified and reunited with her own kin.
In the spring of 2005, a body of a girl close to Tionda’s age was found in a South Side industrial zone in Chicago. Once again, the Bradley family endured the emotional roller coaster of a possible lead, however following a DNA test performed against a sample from the girls’ mother Tracey, it was confirmed that Tionda remained missing.
Eighteen years after the disappearance, a woman from Texas came forward claiming to be Tionda. Communicating with the family via text message in 2019, she claimed that she and Diamond had been abducted by a family friend. Enlisting the help of a private investigator, the Bradley family were tragically able to identify that the woman—known at the time as LayLay Rodriguez on social media—was lying. This was reportedly in part due to a missing scar.
Speaking to CBS News, the girls’ great aunt Sheila Bradley-Clark shared, “This group of scammers are not the missing Diamond or Tionda Bradley.” Meanwhile, the family expressed on Facebook, “We hope that all will continue to provide any tips as to the whereabouts of Diamond and Tionda Bradley.”
Keeping Memory of the Bradley Sisters Alive
Each year since the disappearance of Diamond and Tionda, their devoted family have gathered to stage a vigil in Chicago’s Taylor Park—both in the girls’ memory, and in the hope that answers will one day be revealed. “Some days I have dreams that I’m seeing them walking down the street,” said Diamond and Tionda’s great uncle K.D. Jones when speaking at the gathering in 2017. Last year, mother Tracey Bradley shared, “I know in my heart they’re still alive.” The FBI continues to hold the case open, but unfortunately no further developments have emerged. Periodically, the FBI has also released age progression photos that aim to suggest what Diamond and Tionda might look like today. As the family prepares to mark 20 years since the Bradley sisters’ disappearance, the truth of what happened on that fateful morning sadly remains shrouded in mystery.
There is an epidemic of people going missing in the United States that is on steady incline. It effects families across all classes, all races, all ideologies. Over 600,000 people are reported missing in the United States every year. Most of those reported missing are found not long after the onset of the investigation. However, that still leaves thousands of cases open and unsolved across the nation, with some jurisdictions having scant resources or inadequate experience to close those cases. On top of these shortcomings, some missing person cases will be inherently more difficult than others, typically because the missing person has some form of special needs. Whether the local authorities or an independent investigator is heading up the search, it’s imperative that they be able to mitigate the special circumstances of a missing person with special needs.
When we talk about a missing person with special needs, this can mean many different things. Missing people who have personal circumstances that would make the search atypical for investigators can be defined as special needs. The first thing that might come to mind is a missing person with intellectual disabilities or a person who requires the use of a wheelchair or crutches. However, they could also have a mental illness, have behavioral or personality disorder, or have external circumstances that would make their day-to-day life atypical, like houselessness or substance abuse. The investigator in charge must be well-versed in those issues, and consider them when developing a strategy for the missing person search.
While every missing person case will be unique in its own way, the early stages of most missing person investigations begin with similar approaches, typically by interviewing the family and getting as much information on the missing person as possible. Missing persons who do not have special needs will stick to routines that are in line with their careers, families, or interests—movements that are relatively easy to predict and deviations from these movements can be easily classified as suspect. When searching for a missing person with special needs, conclusions about these circumstances cannot be easily defined without further investigation. Lauth missing person investigators know the importance of keeping an open mind and an open ear in the early stages of a missing person investigation. Our missing person investigators give each case the unique attention it deserves.
When searching for a missing person with special needs, the families must have the consult of a responsive and communicative investigator. After all, the special circumstances of the case will need the guidance of the family in order to execute the search efficiently. Families must seek an investigator who will make regular progress reports, ask a great deal of questions, and take the anecdotal evidence of the family to heart when formulating a plan to find the missing person. At the conclusion of the investigation, that investigator will prepare a comprehensive report of all their findings for the family, answering all of the open questions in the case to the best of their ability, even when those findings may be difficult to hear.
Missing person investigators must also have a diverse recovery plan in place should the leads end in discovering the missing person’s location. The right missing person investigator will have the professionalism and humility to know when they are in over their head, and require the assistance of local law enforcement to assist in recovery efforts, particularly when the missing person has fallen victim to some form of human trafficking and is being held by volatile subjects. Whatever the precarious circumstances the case has led to, the best missing person investigators will always have contingency plans in place that prioritize the safe recovery of a missing loved one.
If you are missing a loved one with special needs, contact Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our missing person services. Lauth carries a glowing A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and regularly receives 5-star reviews from our grateful clients. Call 317-951-1100 today or visit us online at www.lauthmissingpersons.com
When a loved one goes missing, the first logical step is always to file a missing person report with local police. Detectives perform an intake narrative, and collect any and all information from the family they can before developing a strategy for the search. However, after weeks and weeks with no answers, the family of a missing person may wish to seek a second opinion by hiring a missing person investigator. When your loved one goes missing, consider the services of Lauth Investigation International and Thomas Lauth, the best missing person investigator in the Midwest.
The Missing Person Division of Lauth Investigations International is one of the oldest entities in our business. Our CEO Thomas Lauth founded Lauth Investigations International over 30 years ago with the intent of using his diverse discipline in private investigations and field operations to bring answers to families of missing persons. Since that time, Lauth has been on a journey to become the best missing person investigator in the Midwest by helping families who have nowhere else to turn.
Lauth’s missing person investigators always approach each with an open mind and an open notebook. Despite the circumstances of the disappearance, each investigation begins with complete objectivity. It is important not to get tunnel vision when approaching a missing person investigation, because otherwise important leads can be missed, important evidence can be lost, and relevant witnesses can disappear. For example, in many missing teen cases, law enforcement may be inclined to believe that the missing teenager has run away or is simply hanging out with a significant other. This can lead to valuable time being lost, and eventually a stall in case progression. The best missing person investigator for the job will also consider the possibility that the teenager has been kidnapped and is in danger.
Lauth’s missing person investigators know that there is no detail too small when it comes to a missing person investigation. In the case of law enforcement, details are sometimes dismissed due to professional bias or lack of experience. The best missing person investigator knows that the family is a wealth of knowledge with it comes to missing person investigations, and each detail must be considered in conjunction with the circumstances of the case. Lauth missing person investigators also know which resources to comb for information, including databases and living witnesses in order to develop the maximum amount of leads possible.
It’s very important that the best missing person investigator does not let any rock go unturned, or any lead go unconfirmed. Private investigators and missing person investigators who do not exercise reasonable due-diligence can risk following a lead for weeks on unreliable information. When a missing person investigator gets a lead, they must confirm that all the information in that lead is correct in order to proceed in the most efficient fashion. This best practice ensures that no valuable time is lost in the investigation. Lauth missing person investigators know that when it comes to your missing loved one, every second counts.
The best missing person investigators develop their practice by implementing diverse experience and education in law enforcement, practice of the law, field operations, or all of the above. The Lauth missing person investigator team is comprised of former law enforcement and military personnel who have a combined experience of over 50 years in searching for missing persons.
Lauth missing person investigators in particular have received a plethora of testimonials from grateful families and clients who have received clarity as a result of our comprehensive investigations. When law enforcement was unable or unwilling to help, Lauth missing person investigators have provided those families with the answers they needed, whether that means recovering their missing loved one, or bringing the narrative of their disappearance to light so their family can achieve some semblance of closure.
If your loved one has gone missing and your family needs crucial clarity, please consider the team of Lauth missing person investigators for your case. We can get your missing loved one’s story out there in the form of articles, missing person alert videos, and help your family raise funds to mitigate the financial impact. Lauth carries a glowing A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and regularly receives 5-star reviews through Google. Call us today for a free quote on our missing person investigation services at 317-951-1100, or visit us online at www.lauthmissingpersons.com