The Disappearance of Madeline McCann

The Disappearance of Madeline McCann

The Disappearance of Madeline McCann
Madeline McCann disappeared in May of 2003 while on a vacation with her mother, father, and set of younger twin siblings in Praia de Luz, Portugal.

The disappearance of Madeline McCann is arguably the most internationally famous missing child case since the Lindbergh baby vanished in 1932. The story received an unprecedented amount of media attention throughout the globe due to the international nature of the case and the public relations campaign that struggled to keep the child’s face out there in the public eye. Now, in 2019, Netflix has released an eight-episode docuseries, The Disappearance of Madeline McCann, about the case, taking a hard look at the investigation and media coverage surrounding the case since Madeline disappeared 11 years ago.

Madeline McCann was just three years old in May 2003, when she accompanied her family—mother Kate, father Gerry, and a set of younger twin siblings—on a family vacation to Praia da Luz, Portugal. During the course of their stay at a resort community, it became regular practice for Kate and Gerry to put the children down for the night before travelling less than 200 feet away from their apartment to a tapas restaurant where they had dinner with friends. The parents were not worried for their children’s safety because—according to the McCanns and their friends—the window to their apartment was in full view of their regular table at the tapas restaurant. According to statements from the McCanns and their party, the parents would walk back over to the apartment hourly to check on their children. After checking the children several times, it wasn’t until 10:00 PM that Kate McCann realized her daughter was missing, and immediately raised the alarm.

The documentary chronicles the roller coaster of investigative measures and leads over the course of the investigation. Over the years, there have been multiple leads in the case that appeared promising, such as a famous sighting by one of the McCann’s party of a man walking in the vicinity of the McCann’s apartment carrying a sleeping child. Praia de Luz local, Robert Murat, was a suspect early on in the investigation due to his inexplicable special interest in assisting law enforcement and his continued insertion of himself in their investigation. He was eventually cleared by Portugal authorities. Many angles in the investigation concern the likelihood that Madeline was abducted from her bed by a predator who had been casing the apartment during the McCann’s stay at the resort. The docuseries, The Disappearance of Madline McCann, goes into heavy detail about how simple it would be for a predator to abduct Madeline, and then—within a window of less than 2 hours—have been able to smuggle her out of the country to jump jurisdictional lines and cover their tracks, all in the interest of introducing the child into the dark world of sex trafficking.

While support for the McCann family has remained in the years since Madeline went missing, the vitriol that Kate and Gerry McCann have endured comes from allegations that they themselves might have played a role in their daughter’s disappearance. Law enforcement in Praia de Luz made note that the two smaller children sleeping in Madeline’s room remained asleep during their time in the apartment at the onset of the investigation. Despite a great deal of commotion and adults moving from room to room as they searched for Madeline, the set of young twins did not wake or stir at any time. This led to suspicions that the children might have been drugged in order to ensure they would not wake while the parents were across the way at dinner. Both Kate and Gerry McCann were physicians at the time of Madeline’s disappearance, with Kate having reportedly specialized in anesthetics before moving into private practice.

An age-progression photo of Madeline continues to circulate within the campaign to bring her home.

The docuseries makes a point to highlight the importance that media coverage can play in any missing persons case. It was a subject of note that the McCanns hired public relations representatives to help keep the campaign to find Madeline alive in the media, with high saturation of her name in the UK, Portugal, and throughout the globe. Of the thousands of missing child cases that are currently open throughout the world, Madeline’s face is one of the most famous—along with Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard, two young girls who were abducted, were kept captive, and were eventually reunited with their families following a successful, albeit years-long investigation.  Talking heads in the series note that although Madeline’s case was an extreme example of media coverage, the question remains how other missing children’s cases would have benefited from the same amount of attention the McCann case received. Despite hundreds of tips and leads that have surfaced over the years, the truth of what happened to Madeline McCann still remains a mystery.

Watch The Disappearance of Madeline McCann on Netflix.

Carie McMichael is the Media and Communication Specialist for Lauth Investigations International. She regularly writes on private investigation and missing persons topics. For more information, please visit our website.

Why Are Cases of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Being Ignored?

Why Are Cases of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Being Ignored?

Indigenous women in this country are more likely than any other group to be raped or murdered. The salt in this gaping wound is they are also least likely to see justice. Indigenous women in this country are more likely than any other group to be raped or murdered. The salt in this gaping wound is they are also least likely to see justice. These are very passive terms, but there are no others, because the amount of data available about violent crimes against indigenous women is dwarfed in comparison to those of other groups. Last year, there were 5,646 Native American women entered into the National Crime Information Centre (NCIC) as missing. As of June 2018, there had been 2,758 reported missing. Many of their families have claimed no one bothered to investigate.

The jurisdictional issues surrounding cases occurring on reservations is a giant knot of Christmas lights; difficult to unravel, involving federal, state, and tribal law. It can sometimes be unclear to investigating bodies exactly who should be looking for answers. These cases become stillborn while law enforcement plays jurisdictional musical chairs—trails go cold, witnesses disappear, or develop amnesia, evidence is eroded. These women are not likely to be found, nor are their cases likely to be prosecuted. The disappearance of Ashley Loring HeavyRunner is a chilling example. She went missing from the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana in June of 2017. Her sister begged for help from the Indian Bureau of Affairs, and the FBI did not investigate until March of 2018, nine months later.    

Despite the fact tribes on the reservations are guaranteed self-government by the Constitution, the more serious crimes fall under the jurisdiction of the FBI. The FBI is not obligated to notify them if a member of their tribe is reported missing or murdered. On top of that, the crimes do fall under tribal jurisdiction are placed in the hands of a woefully understaffed force. “A lot of times it doesn’t go beyond the missing persons report,” said Marita Growing Thunder, a 19-year-old murdered and missing indigenous women (MMIW) activist.

Annita LucceshiIn fact, the work being done to preserve information about murdered and missing indigenous women is being performed in large part by private citizens, like Annita Lucceshi, a PhD student at the University of Lethbridge in Southern Alberta. “I realised how difficult it is to get a sense of just how many murdered and missing women there are because it changes constantly and there is so little official information,” Annita told Independent. The database she has compiled goes back a little over a century, and she described her experience with obtaining accurate information to be heavy labor. “The police are not helpful. Typically, I get no response at all. If I do, they say they don’t collect the data, or that they won’t be able to pull that information.”

It gets worse. In preparation for his film Wind River, director Taylor Sheridan paid a handful of lawyers to compile a statistic regarding murdered and missing indigenous women. After three months, they came back empty-handed, but had learned some disturbing facts along the way. As recently as 2013, sexual assault of a Native woman by a non-Native could not be prosecuted because it was a state crime on federal land. Natives accused of crimes against non-Natives can be prosecuted twice, by the federal government and by tribal police. This was rectified when the Violence Against Women Act gave criminal jurisdiction over non-indigenous people who commit sexual violence against Native American women.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women In 2015, the Department of Justice announced they were developing the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP) so tribes can enter and view information in the federal NCIC database, thereby streamlining muddled communications between investigating bodies. Ten tribes were selected for the beta-test of this new system, but as of 2016, some had not received their TAP terminals. Once again, the wheels of justice turn at a glacial pace for missing and murdered indigenous women.

Carie McMichael is the Communication and Media Specialist for Lauth Investigations International, a private investigation firm based in Indianapolis, Indiana–delivering proactive and diligent solutions for over 30 years. For more information, please visit our website.

Molly Tibbetts Case Shines Light on Other Less-Nationally Known Missing Person Case

Molly Tibbetts Case Shines Light on Other Less-Nationally Known Missing Person Case

Mollie Tibbetts, 20, has been missing since July 18, 2018, from Brooklyn, Iowa.

A new website was launched Monday that has generated over 1,500 new tips received from people trying to help find missing University of Iowa student Molly Tibbetts.

A spokesperson for Crimestoppers Greg Willey announced the reward fund has also climbed to nearly $400,000 which is a record for the 36-year old organization.

The amount of the reward is likely to continue climbing a spokesperson for Crime Stoppers told the press.

News outlets nationwide are continuously providing the public with updates, and the non-stop coverage is also breaking national records. The case is being compared to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway whose reward fund was $1 million.

House where Mollie Tibbits vanished while house-sitting. Photo Courtesy of Chris Bott, DailyMail.com

On July 18, 2018, Mollie Tibbetts, 20, vanished while house-sitting in her hometown of Brooklyn approximately 70 miles east of Des Moines with only a population of less than 1,500 people.

Mollie had been house-sitting for her boyfriend Dalton Jack’s two dogs while he was out of town working about 100 miles northeast in Dubuque.

Molly put on her shorts and sports bra, along with her running shoes and Fitbit and headed out for a jog just like she did every evening, according to neighbors.

Then she vanished.

Jack received a Snapchat message and looked at it but did not reply right away. Police have not released any information about when the message was sent. The following morning, he sent a “good morning” text the following day but received no answer. When an employee at the day-care center where Mollie worked called to see why she had not shown up for work, Mollie didn’t answer. Calls went straight to her voicemail.

Early on, dozens of volunteers searched in empty buildings, in ditches, and cornfields to no avail. Now there are millions throughout the country who know Mollie’s name due to the record number of worldwide new stations reporting about her disappearance.

“A daughter to anybody in this community is a daughter to everybody,” Brooklyn resident Joy Vanlandschoot told the Iowa Register. “We all hope the same effort would be made toward our own children.”

Mollie Tibbett’s has quickly become America’s child, that accompanies a fear every parent of a young daughter, who was just venturing out on her own, has in the back of their mind when their child doesn’t show up for work or answer their phone.

Brooklyn is in Poweshiek County, located just off Highway 6 and a couple miles north of Interstate 80 in central Iowa.

Mollie’s mother Laura Calderwood told the ABC news it has been “excruciating” not knowing where she is. “She is just such an outgoing, fun, loving life, loving person,” said her mother.

Calderwood told the Gazette, “It is impossible for me to imagine. I can’t even speculate about what might have happened.”

(FBI joined in the search for Mollie Tibbets early on.)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation joined the search, working with the local Poweshiek Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

However, police have remained closed-mouthed though, even canceling two weeks of scheduled new conferences meant to update the public on the investigation. People are speculating if police may know more than they are releasing.

“To have a complete stranger to come into a small town like this, someone would have to come forward and mentioned they’ve seen this person,” former FBI ex-profiler and director of the forensic sciences program at George Mason University, Mary Ellen O’Toole told Fox News. “She was likely not kidnapped. She either got into the car of someone she knew or had a relationship with, or it was someone who had a non-threatening demeanor.”

However, O’Toole said it was also unlikely Mollie ran away from her life. Though police have been tight-lipped, O’Toole’s analyzation of the case may reflect authorities believe someone Mollie knew abducted her. Everyone’s prayer is she is still alive. In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Mollie’s father Rob Tibbetts shared he also thinks his daughter is with someone she knows.

(Mollie Tibbits father Rob tell media he believes his missing daughter is with someone she knows.)

“It’s total speculation on my part, but I think Mollie is with someone she knows, that is in over their head, Rob said. “That there was some kind of misunderstanding about the nature of their relationship and, at this point, they don’t know how to get out from under this.”

He added, “Let Mollie come home and hold yourself accountable for what you’ve done so far, but don’t escalate this to a point where you can’t recover yourself.”

Robert Lowery of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children told CBS news the case has garnered national attention because it’s rare.

“We always have a small percentage like we’re seeing with Mollie, where they simply disappear and for no investigative reason or for any purpose that we can determine, and these would make Mollie’s the most difficult that anyone can face.”

While some experts in the field of missing persons believe, due to public perception, telling the public Mollie may be with someone she knows could be dangerous in what is clearly a dangerous life or death situation, they also believe appealing to the person who took Mollie may be law enforcement’s only hope right now.

(Authorities release map of areas of interest.)

On August 15th, authorities announced they are seeking to talk to anyone that was in the highlighted areas on the above map on July 18, 2018, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. The notice was posted on www.findingmollie.iowa.gov.

The highlighted area surrounds the vicinity of Mollie’s boyfriend’s home, where she was staying the night she vanished, and two tracts of farmland accessible only by dirt roads.

One of the farm locations next to Big Bear Creek, a waterway that runs northwest of Brooklyn in Gilman, and northeast to Marengo, emptying into the Iowa River approximately 20 miles away.

(D & M Carwash in Brooklyn, Iowa, where authorities are seeking information from anyone in the area the night Mollie Tibbits vanished.)

Another location included on the map is the D & M Carwash in the town of Brooklyn.

Police have not released why they are focusing on these areas and no suspects have been announced in the case.

“We are considering all potential scenarios,” said Mitch Mortvedt, the assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. “It is possible Mollie came into contact with someone who caused her harm.”

Mollie’s cell phone has still not been located.

As of May 31, 2018, in the United States there were 87,608 active missing person cases in the National Crime Information Center at the FBI. Of that number 8,853 were classified Involuntary, also termed a Nonfamily abduction. The state of Iowa has 35 missing adult cases deemed involuntary in the FBI database and another 63 missing person cases listed as Other.

The “Other” category normally describes a situation where there is not enough information available to law enforcement through their investigation to deem the person missing under involuntary circumstances.

The Missing Person Information Clearinghouse at the Iowa Department of Public Safety profiles the state’s missing adult and children’s cases on their website. You can find the profile of Mollie Tibbetts on their Homepage.

Disappearance of Jodi Huisentuit

Jodi Huisentruit was a popular 27-year old news anchor at KIMT-TV in Mason City, in northern Iowa. When she failed to show up for work 23-years ago to anchor the 6 a.m. broadcast, police were notified. Until the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts, Jodi’s disappearance was considered one of the most widely publicized missing person cases in Iowa history.

Findjodi.com ran by the news station and retired law enforcement announced on March 12, 2018, the Mason City Police Department had executed a search warrant for two vehicles owned by a man named John Vansice, now 72-year old and living in Arizona.

Court records indicated police were seeking GPS data from a 1999 Honda Civic and a 2013 GMC 1500 once owned by Vansice.

“As you know, we continue to actively work Jodi Huisentruit’s missing person case from June 27, 1995,” said Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley.

(Photograph taken at Jodi Huisentruit’s birthday just weeks before her disappearance.)

The day prior to vanishing, Jodi had attended a golf tournament and according to Vansice, went to his house afterword to view a videotape of her birthday party earlier that month.

Approximately 4 a.m. on June 27, 1995, KIMT-TV producer Amy Kuns realized Jodi had failed to show up for work and called Jodi’s apartment. Jodi answered and explained to her boss that she had overslept and leaving momentarily to drive to work.

By 6 a.m. Jodi had still not arrived so Kuns filled in for her on the Morning Show “Daybreak.

At 7 a.m. the news station called the police.

When police arrived at her apartment complex they found Jodi’s red Mazda Miata parked in her usual parking place. They also found what appeared to be a struggle at the car and personal items to include Jodi’s bent car key, indicating force reflecting an abduction.

In September 1995 the Huisentruit family hired a private investigator from Minnesota, who then enlisted the help of another private investigator out of Nebraska who worked to take the story to national news outlets like Unsolved Mysteries, America’s Most Wanted and Psychic Detectives.

Police have conducted over a thousand interviews during the investigation into the disappearance of Iowa’s beloved news anchor.

The March 2018 police activity reflects the authority’s relentless efforts to find out what happened to Jodi. Her family and the news station she once worked for refuse to give up hope.

(Jodi Huisentruit’s sister JoAnn Nathe visits billboard dedicated by KIMT-TV.)

Last month, Jodi’s sister JoAnn Nathe, along with her daughter Kristen visited Mason City to see the billboards dedicated to Jodi on her 50th birthday by the website group.

The family also released a statement read by KIMT-TV General Manager John Shine.

We would like to send out a big thank you to the members of the Find Jodi team for all the work they have done and continue to do in trying to find answers and keeping Jodi’s case alive, including these beautiful billboards.

It is amazing to us that many of the members never met or knew Jodi personally, yet they are so willing to give of their own time and resources to help solve the case and bring Jodi the justice she deserves.

We would especially like to thank Josh Benson, his wife Tara Manis Benson, and Caroline Lowe for all the effort they put into making these billboards a reality. We are so grateful, and we know Jodi would be as well.

We would also like to say thank you to the members of Jodi’s Network of Hope for all the work they do in making something good out of something so tragic. From scholarships and safety training to the annual golf tournament, you help keep Jodi’s spirit alive, and we are grateful to you.

Thank you for the continued support in our mission to bring Jodi home.

As reported in the Star Tribune, just last month, remains were found in a rural area near Mason City, and a moment of hope is realized by Huisentruit’s family and friends.

Thomas Lauth. Founder of Lauth Missing Persons has worked over twenty-years on missing person cases and considered an expert in the field. “With the tragic disappearance of their daughter the Tibbetts’s family should not give up hope. Family and friends should continue to place Mollie’s information daily into the media spotlight and be in close contact with investigators. With Mollie’s case making national news, other missing person cases stand to be revived by the public interest. Like all families of missing persons, they hold on to hope and sadly, some endure years not knowing.”

To learn more about missing persons investigations, please visit our website

Hiring a Private Investigator to Find Your Missing Child

Hiring a Private Investigator to Find Your Missing Child

Every week there are new stories in the news about children and teenagers who have either run away or been kidnapped. When parents see these tragedies play out through media coverage, there’s usually one common thread running through their minds, “This could not happen to my child.” Despite statistics on the demographics most often affected by missing or runaway teens, no family is immune. Parents of a missing child or teen will most certainly have never found themselves in these frightful circumstances before and be at a loss for how to proceed. In addition to filing a report with police, the parents might also consider hiring a private investigator to conduct an independent, concurrent investigation, which begs the question: Should you hire a private investigator to locate your missing or runaway child?

An Overwhelming Task

At first glance, hiring a private investigator may seem superfluous. You may think, “The police are here to help me, and they’re here to help me for free. Why should I consider hiring a private investigator?” The Office of Justice Programs estimates the first 48 hours after your child goes missing are the most crucial in the timeline of any investigation. During these moments, your instinct might be to go find the child yourself or help conduct searches; however, as a parent or guardian of a missing child, your information is the most crucial. A 1982 congressional mandate requires law enforcement to immediately take a report following the disappearance of a child under the age of 18. However, recent reports estimate the excess of some 800,000 missing persons cases reported every year, 85-90% of those cases are individuals under the age of 18. What this statistic tells us is law enforcement, in most parts of the country, are overwhelmed by a caseload (with some departments averaging over 40 cases per investigator) leaving your missing child as a file amidst a stack of equally devastating missing child cases. As law enforcement agencies across the country remain stretched, missing child cases—especially ones where the child appears to have run away—are not always the first priority, as investigators attempt to perform a triage regarding which case requires their attention the most. Private investigators only average between three and four cases at any given time, meaning your child’s case will be at the top of their list of priorities.  During the crucial FIRST 48 hours, having a private investigator treat your case as a priority can be the difference between acquiring invaluable information and losing a lead.

Constitutional Red Tape

One of the glowing advantages of hiring a private investigator to find your missing child or teen is the fact PIs possess far more autonomy than the average law enforcement officer or investigator. For instance, when a suspect has been identified, law enforcement often must secure a warrant for them to be tracked as the investigation unfolds. Paperwork and bureaucracy within the chain of command can cause the wheels of justice to turn slowly in regards to local or state law enforcement. Not only are PI’s not required to file this sort of paperwork, but they can also do so without the supervision of a governing law enforcement administration, so the case progression is not stalled for lack of warrant or administration approval.

The Binds of Jurisdiction

Hiring a private investigator conducting an independent, concurrent investigation, means there will never be any issues of jurisdiction when pursuing leads. Say your family lives in Indiana, but while on an out-of-state family vacation, your child goes missing in a crowd. As missing and abducted children across state or even international borders, local law enforcement exponentially lose power to follow leads maybe illuminating the child’s whereabouts.  It is also not uncommon for two or more law enforcement agencies to enter a tug of war when it comes to who has jurisdiction over a particular case based on the specific circumstances. This can lead to the loss of leads or time as agencies hash out the details. Private investigators are never bound by jurisdictional bureaucracy. They can travel between states following the trail of a missing child, all without having to file any paperwork or obtain special permissions from superiors.

While law enforcement may have a wealth of experience and exclusive tools at their disposal, it’s important to remember that these civil servants are often overwhelmed with an immense case-load and can only do so much when it comes to the constitutional and jurisdictional boundaries they cannot cross. When hiring a private investigator, remember they have the expertise and similar tools of law enforcement, while also having the time to treat your case as a top priority.

Carie McMichael is the Communication and Media Specialist for Lauth Investigations International, a private investigation firm based in Indianapolis, Indiana–delivering proactive and diligent solutions for over 30 years. For more information, please visit our website.

Meet Missing Person Expert, Thomas Lauth

Meet Missing Person Expert, Thomas Lauth

LII

At Lauth Missing Person Investigations, we specialize in complex missing person investigations of endangered missing children and adults.

The investigative team at Lauth Investigations has over 40 years combined experience working closely with the families of missing persons, local, state and federal law enforcement, along with national media and missing persons organizations throughout the country and internationally.

Founded in 1995, Thomas Lauth is a nationally recognized Missing Persons and Human Trafficking Investigator and graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, who initially served as Senior Criminal Investigator for Marion County Public Defender Agency located in Indiana.

Lauth has served as both a prosecution and defense witness on numerous missing persons and homicides at the federal and state levels, including being appointed by state and federal courts to conduct independent investigations of homicides, robberies, and other serious felony matters.

In addition, Thomas has attended various U.S. Department of Justice conferences on missing persons, human trafficking, and child abduction. He served as a volunteer Advisor to the Nation’s Missing Children Organization and the National Center for Missing Adults for nearly twenty years.

In addition to working with local and state law enforcement, Lauth has worked cooperatively with Interpol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. State Department, the U.S. Consulate and various foreign embassies.

Lauth is considered an expert in missing persons by national media and has appeared in publications like Essence Magazine, USA Today, Los Angeles Daily News, San Diego Tribune, New York Times and more.

According to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as of May 31, 2018, there were 87,608 active missing person cases in the United States.

Missing persons are entered into various categories such as Juvenile, Endangered, Involuntary or Non-family Abductions, Disability, Catastrophe and Other. Though it is not mandated for law enforcement to enter missing persons into NCIC, it is beneficial to both the missing person and the private investigation. Lauth Investigations verifies all missing persons investigated are entered into NCIC making the missing person’s information available to all law enforcement throughout the country to include, medical examiners and Coroners.

By creating more public awareness, it increases the potential for generating leads. Lauth is one of the few private investigators in the country who works every day in locating missing persons, focusing on creating a collaborative effort between various victim assistance organizations, media, and law enforcement to create a successful public awareness campaign.

Lauth Investigations success rate is averaged at approximately 85% over 20 years working with families of missing persons. Every case is unique based on the circumstances of the disappearance and discovery based upon the private investigator’s fact-finding.

When hired, Lauth exclusively focuses on the specific missing person case, ensuring full attention is given to each case. Lauth is experienced in searching for missing persons between the ages of approximately 12-years old to seniors.

Circumstances of disappearances include at-risk children, teens, at-risk adults missing due to foul play, human trafficking, custodial and non-custodial abduction, (including Hague and non-compliant Hague countries), homeless, and those suffering from disabilities such as mental illness or missing persons suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Following are a few excerpts from letters Thomas Lauth has received throughout the years:

Mr. Lauth’s credentials indicate he has a high success rate of locating individuals and we have also found this to be true. He not only utilizes various resources to help locate individuals, but he frequently follows up with them after they are located to see how they are transitioning.

We will continue to utilize Thomas Lauth’s services in the future. His assistance with this organization and the many families of missing person we refer him to give hope to the possibility these families will once again be able to hold their loved ones in their arms. We highly recommend the services he provides to the families of missing persons.

Erin Bruno, National Center for Missing Adults

At a highly emotional time, I found the contact with Mr. Lauth to be quite reassuring. His experience in investigations of missing persons is quite impressive and without pressure, he outlined the stages of his proposed investigation costs and projected number of days to successfully locate my son.

As Tom predicted, my son was located a day later and was brought to the hospital in very bad shape. I am convinced without his intervention, my son was at extreme risk of death, or trafficked to other major cities around the world.

I am honored to provide a letter of reference for this remarkable man who is such a strong advocate for missing persons. My experience is such that I do not recommend relying solely on a local police department to locate a missing person, particularly with mental illness. The risk of exploitation or other harm is simply too great and hiring an experienced private investigator is more likely to bring a loved one home again.

Liz Mallin, mother of Brandon

Thomas Lauth, an investigator who specializes in missing children and adults, has been one of the most reliable and imaginative investigators we have found to date. Mr. Lauth’s experience with our organization, as well as the work he has done for the National Center for Missing Adults, has proven to be invaluable in the locating of abductors and bringing missing children and adults home.

Mr. Lauth’s impressive list of successes as well as his passion for the “left behind parent” makes him more than qualified to work in the area of child abduction. I would not hesitate to recommend Mr. Lauth to any parent who has lost a child. I personally feel that it is Mr. Lauth’s feelings for the children that separate him from so many other investigators.

David Thelen, CEO of Committee for Missing Children, Inc.

I wanted to take this opportunity to formally commend and recommend the services provided by Thomas Lauth at Lauth Investigations. My family and I recently worked with Thomas regarding my sister and nephew who had been missing for almost two years.

Tom was the second investigator that worked the case. Based on the excellent service we experienced, I sincerely regret that we did not work with him initially.

I found Thomas to be extremely knowledgeable, professional and emphatic. I immediately felt comfortable confiding in him. In response, Thomas offered a complete plan, with accurate cost disclosures and regular substantive updates.

Most importantly, Thomas did exactly what he promised to do, on time and within the estimated budget we initially discussed. Thanks to his efforts, we were able to speak with both missing parties for the first time since 2003.

Tom is an absolute gem. I strongly recommend him to anyone who may find him or herself in the unfortunate circumstance of losing contact with a loved one.

Andrea D. Townsend, Attorney at Law

Recently, my son was missing, and we had nowhere to turn until we found you. He had taken off for work and never got there. No one knew where he was, and police couldn’t help because he was of age.

If any parent is in our situation, I highly recommend they call you. You were so helpful and kind to us. You understood just how worried we were.

You met my husband in Massachusetts, where we finally figured out where he was. You stayed there until he was found and let us contact him. Your kindness and professional manner were of great comfort to us in our time of need. It is so hard not knowing where your child is. Anyone going through these hard times needs to know there is an organization out there that cares and handles the problem for you.

You don’t know what you gave back to us. My son means the world to me and getting him back made my world complete again.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and hope that anyone else missing a child will call you. You are the best!

Donna Post, mother of a formerly missing son

VIRGINIA FAMILIES OBSERVE 2ND ANNUAL MISSING PERSONS DAY

VIRGINIA FAMILIES OBSERVE 2ND ANNUAL MISSING PERSONS DAY

VIRGINIA OBSERVES 2ND ANNUAL MISSING PERSONS DAY

In every state in America, there are families still waiting for their children to come home. Analysis of state by state data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates at any given time in the U.S., there are an average of 90,000 open missing persons cases, with at least 15 states having between 5 and in excess of 10 open cases per 100,000 people. The void left by these missing persons create a ripple effect on the entire country. In a growing trend, more and more states are establishing their own Missing Persons Day to shed additional light as to the details surrounding all open missing persons cases and provide support for the families still enduring the loss of their missing loved one.

Last year, an overwhelming 600 open missing persons cases in the state of Virginia prompted the state General Assembly to establish the first Missing Persons Day in the Commonwealth. This year, Virginia recognized Missing Persons Day with an event on Saturday, April 28th. Dozens of affected family members shared their experiences surrounding their missing loved ones. Events like these give families the opportunity to network and find support in one another. Women like Trina Murphy, whose niece Alexis Murphy went missing five years ago, appreciates the empathy of those present at the event, “It really means everything—I mean, to be in the presence of people who have gone through what you continue to go through is very important for your healing process.”

Toni Jacobs’s daughter, Keeshae Jacobs, 21, disappeared over a year ago in September of 2016. “Her phone kept going to voicemail, and it’s been going to voicemail ever since.” Despite the loss of her child, Jacobs has turned her pain into advocacy and spreading awareness to other parents. Carol Adams of the Richmond Police Department was next to Jacobs at Saturday’s event. She advised the crowd, “We want to teach parents to be vigilant about where their children are, who they’re interacting with. Don’t meet up with strangers without knowing where you’re going because it could be a ploy to kidnap you.”

A statewide Missing Persons Day has helped shine light on non-profit organizations like Help Save the Next Girl. It was founded by Gil Harrington, in honor of her daughter, Morgan, who was abducted and found murdered in 2009. The non-profit’s website offers their specific call to action, “We seek to sensitize young women and girls to predatory danger. Our foundation fosters mutual respect and camaraderie with young men, and we are committed to be an active, imaginative presence on campuses and in clubs and violence prevention forums across the country.” Foundations like Help Save the Next Girl spread awareness about the predation that often leads to both children and adults being reported missing.

Another non-profit organization like Help Save the Next Girl is the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. It was founded in 2008 by a veteran law enforcement officer and a public relations specialist, the Black and Missing Foundation’s mission statement is to, “to bring awareness to missing persons of color; provide vital resources and tools to missing person’s families and friends and to educate the minority community on personal safety.” The foundation organizes informational campaigns and public forums using a variety of media in order to reach an underserved community. The families of missing persons of color face a very specific problem in getting the name and face of their loved one out there in media for the country to see because of a phenomenon called “missing white woman syndrome.” According to NPR, “a phrase coined by Gwen Ifill, the late PBS anchor. It refers to the mainstream media’s seeming fascination with covering missing or endangered white women — like Laci Peterson or Natalee Holloway — and its seeming disinterest in cases involving missing people of color.” As a result, the names and faces of missing persons of color often tragically do not make national news, unlike the cases of Laci Peterson or Natalee Holloway. Organizations like the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. work tirelessly to combat this issue and spread awareness about missing persons of color across the country.

Missing Persons Day is not only an opportunity with victims’ families to network with one another, but also for families to network with law enforcement to update the open files on their missing loved ones, including updating their photograph. David Morris, an officer with the Roanoke Police Department told CBS 10, “This gives us an opportunity to talk to the individuals and their family members, update them on any case files or any information we’ve come across. Just try to provide them with any kind of closure that we can and just reaffirm that we are still investigating these cases and these cases have not gone silent.” David Morris went on to say his best advice for anyone who has a missing person in their family is to keep an open line of communication with investigators.

The epidemic of missing persons in the United States has not only led to states invoking their own Missing Persons Days, but also to the creation of the National Center for Missing Adults. The center was founded as a response to the disappearance of Kristen Modafferi of Charlotte, North Carolina. Because she was not a minor at the time of her disappearance, resources in finding her were limited. Representative Sue Myrick introduced the bill in 1999, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law in 2000. During its short tenure, the law “provided assistance to law enforcement and families in missing persons cases of those over the age of 17” and authorized $1M per year to support organizations including the National Center for Missing Adults.” Funding for Kristen’s Act ran out in 2005 but continues with volunteer support.

According to Independent Missing Persons Investigator, Thomas Lauth of www.lauthmissingpersons.com, “Daily, families have to deal with the crisis of a loved one and while some families receive law enforcement and media attention others fall by the wayside and into the unknown.  Specifically, missing adults who often times are considered by law enforcement to be missing on their own accord or adults suffering from mental illness and their path inadvertently places them into homelessness. A day of recognition for any missing adult or child should always be recognized.”

For more information on Gil Harrington’s non-profit organization, Help Save the Next Girl, please visit their website at www.helpsavethenextgirl.com/.

For more information on the Black and Missing Foundation, please visit their website at www.blackandmissinginc.com/.

For more information on establishing a Missing Persons Day in your state, please visit the official website of your state’s legislature.

Carie McMichael is the Communication and Media Specialist for Lauth Investigations International, a private investigation firm based in Indianapolis, Indiana–delivering proactive and diligent solutions for over 30 years. For more information, please visit our website.