Revealed: The Hidden Methods Private Investigators Use to Find Missing Persons
The true crime world is fascinated by tales of missing persons. Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services are always adding new documentaries and series about missing persons, which often detail the sophisticated methods that law enforcement uses to find missing persons. However, when law enforcement cannot close a missing person case, families will turn to the expertise of a private investigator to find a missing person—but without the resources and support of a law enforcement agency, how does a private investigator find a missing person?
Although private investigators do not have access to the same level of informational resources as law enforcement, they still have tools at their disposal to help find a missing person. Through their licensure by the state, private investigators have access to verified databases that allow them to conduct background checks on subjects in a case. When trying to find a missing person, these databases can be used to develop leads, find a subject’s last known address, look up criminal histories, and so much more.
Private investigators typically have diverse and comprehensive experience in surveillance operations. Surveillance is one of the covert ways that private investigators can find a missing person. Surveillance operations are a great way for private investigators to collect data, develop leads, and document the unseen factors in a missing person case. For example, when trying to find a missing person in a sex trafficking ring, private investigators may set up surveillance equipment around a suspected hub of operations in order to develop a concrete plan for recovery. Such recordings and pictures can also be used in criminal and civil court.
When trying to find a missing person, one of a private investigator’s best tools is their ability to identify potential witnesses and develop a rapport with them in order to extract information. This can be done overtly or covertly. Sometimes investigators attempt to develop a personal relationship with witnesses in order to extract information from them without suspicion. Within reason, investigators may also wear disguises and present alternative pretenses for speaking with the witness. Whatever the circumstances of the case demands, investigators have the ability to develop leads and corroborate previously received testimony regarding the relevant facts in the case.
In some circumstances, it might become necessary for an investigator to develop a ruse or undercover operation in order to find a missing person. Investigators have been known to go undercover as delivery drivers, party patrons, or in extreme circumstances, embedding themselves into criminal enterprise in order to get answers. Investigators can wear covert surveillance equipment on their person, such as hidden cameras and microphones, in order to document relevant facts in the case and use them to develop further leads in recovering or finding the missing person.
Keeping a missing person’s face out in the media is crucial to a continuing a flow of information and leads for investigators. Though it may sound harsh, the public has a very short memory. Cases of missing people, particularly women of color, are forgotten almost as soon as they’re heard. It typically falls to the families of missing persons to conduct missing person awareness campaigns on their own time, relentlessly sharing their picture and story so that it may increase the chances of their loved one being found. Law enforcement does not typically devote sources specifically to awareness campaigns, but private investigators sometimes offer online awareness campaigns as part of their services for finding missing persons. The more time the missing person’s face is in the public eye, the more leads investigators are likely to generate.
The family of Suzanne Morphew has finally seen movement in the case of the missing Colorado mother who disappeared one year ago. Her husband, Barry Morphew, has been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in the presumed death of Suzanne, authorities announced on Wednesday.
Though Suzanne Morphew’s body has not been found, the affidavit that was the basis for Morphew’s arrest detailed reasons why investigators believe he is responsible for his wife’s disappearance and presumed death. While that affidavit remains under seal, Morphew also exercised his right to remain silent, immediately asking for representation following his arrest. Chaffe County Sheriff, John Spezze, said, “Today is not the day for celebration nor does it mark the end of this investigation. Rather it’s the next step in this very difficult yet very important journey as we seek justice for Suzanne and her family.”
Suzanne Morphew, 49, has been missing for over a year, disappearing on May 10, 2020, Mother’s Day. She was reported missing when a neighbor called 911 to report that Morphew had gone for a bike ride and never returned. In a Facebook video that arched many eyebrows on the internet, Barry Morphew pled with the public for any information leading to her safe return, offering a $200,000 reward. “Now questions asked, however much they want, I will do whatever it takes to get you back,” Morphew said in the video.
When searches by law enforcement of the area where Suzanne went bike-riding turned up nothing, her brother, Andy Moorman, announced in mid-September that he was recruiting and organizing volunteers for his own search efforts. “I need to find her, need to bring her home, give her a proper burial and closure for my family,” he told KMGH-TV. “And that’s my point, I’m not about finding somebody guilty or trying to inflict punishment on anyone. That’s law enforcement’s job.”
Morphew’s arrest is the result of a sprawling effort by law enforcement to find answers in his wife’s disappearance. More than 135 searches have been conducted in the state of Colorado, and investigators interviewed an excess of 400 people across several states. Suzanne was described by Spezze as “a rare find” and someone who was much beloved by those who knew her. She had two daughters at the time of her disappearance.
According to stunning new allegations by prosecutors, Paul Flores killed Kristen Smart following attempts to sexually assault her in her dorm room on the night she went missing. This week, investigators, family members, and true crime fans are all feeling some semblance of progress in the case of missing Cal Poly student, Kristen Smart after Paul Flores, a long-time person of interest in the case was arrested in connection with her disappearance. Smart disappeared in 1996 after she left a party with her friends and never arrived back at her student dormitory. Since her disappearance, investigators have been looking Flores, who was reportedly the last person to see Smart before she went missing.
The public’s fascination with the Kristen Smart’s case goes back to 1996 when she first went missing. The Cal Poly student was on her way to a party the night she went missing, May 24, 1996. She was supposed to speak to her parents on the phone before she left her dorm room for the party, but her parents never heard from her. Kristen ended up at an off-campus party where she became heavily intoxicated and passed out on the lawn of a neighboring house. Kristen was leaving the party with friends when Paul Flores came up on them and offered to walk Kristen back to her dorm. Kristen was never heard from again, and Paul Flores has always been identified as the last person to see her alive.
The theory that Paul Flores killed Kristen Smart came from the presumed timeline of Kristen’s last movements the night she disappeared. Since Flores was the last person to be seen with her, it stands to reason he would have information about her disappearance. However, over the years, Paul Flores has proven to be a tough nut to crack. Despite the fact that Flores remained ingrained in discourse around the case for the next 20 years, he was never formally charged by law enforcement, and invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when deposed in a wrongful death suit in 2005 levied by Kristen’s parents. Despite numerous searches by law enforcement, friends, and family, her remains have never been found.
Authorities investigating the disappearance of Kristen Smart have credited a true-crime podcast in part for the progress that has been made in the case. Your Own Backyard, a true-crime podcast that takes a deep dive into Kristen Smart’s disappearance, was launched in 2019 by Chris Lambert, a veteran podcaster who was humble when describing his investigative efforts to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, “The podcast was one part of the whole formula. Even with what I found, I can’t go arrest somebody. I needed [the sheriff’s office] to do their job. I was willing to do what I could to assist in that. You can get varying levels of agreement about what I did directly led to an arrest. My personal opinion was that I was one piece of the formula.” Following the release of the podcast, law enforcement was able to develop leads. Paul Flores and his father, Ruben, was also arrested as an accessory after the fact and is believed to have helped Flores dispose of Kristen’s remains. In a press conference following their arrest, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said to the media, “In 2019, we interviewed several witnesses that had not been previously interviewed and some of that information came to light through the podcast that many of you are familiar with.”
Paul Flores and his father, Ruben were arraigned on Thursday morning. The DA’s office is reportedly requesting a higher bail amount for Ruben Flores set at $250,000. Paul Flores remains in jail, held on zero bail for felony murder.
In fortuitous turn of events, an Ozark mother and daughter who were previously reported missing to the police have been located by authorities. Anna and Amora Rossi were reported missing on Thursday, March 22, 2021 under what police initially described as suspicious circumstances.
The following morning, the investigators followed up on serveral leads that developed in the early hours of the investigation. As a result, investigators were able to locate Anna and Amora Rossi. Investigators did not release any details about their whereabouts, but have assured the public that Anna and Amora Rossi are safe and sound.
The Rossi case is just one of hundreds of thousands missing person cases that are reported every year. The difference here is that their case was solved within the first 48 hours of the initial report. Sadly, not many families receive that closure. At any given time, there are more than 800,000 active missing person cases in the United States.
If you have a missing loved one and still have not received answers in their disappearance, call Lauth Investigations International today to hear how our missing person investigators can bring your family closure in the matter of your misisng loved one. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at www.lauthmissingpersons.com
Missing person investigators in Alabama have recently closed the search for a missing mother and her two children following initial reports that they might be in danger. Kadance Cierra Hooper, aged 29, was last seen with her two young sons last seen Tuesday, February 16, 2021.
Kadence and her children went missing after she had picked up her oldest son from school on Tuesday. An already disturbing disappearance was further exacerbated by medical complications related to Kadence’s illness of multiple sclerosis, which is known to cause anxiety and depression. An alert was released by the New Brockton Police Department about the disappearance, stating “Mrs. Hooper is a 29-year-old white female and may be living with a condition that may impair her judgement.” Investigators had additional concerns about Kadance following a report that she had taken possession of two handguns prior to disappearing with her two young sons, leading investigators to believe she was armed and may be a danger to herself or her others. Investigators believed Kadance to have disconnected her phone, making it impossible for law enforcement to track her. Law enforcement placed a BOLO, or statewide alert on her vehicle, and advised the public that she may be armed and her judgement may be impaired.
After eight long days of searching, New Brockton Police were able to report that Kadence and her children were finally located, alive and safe.
When a loved one goes missing, consider hiring a private investigator to conduct a concurrent missing person investigation with law enforcement. This ensures that no stone will be left unturned and your family can get answers fast. Call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our missing person services. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at www.lauthmissingpersons.com.
Have you seen missing mother, Crystal Marie Fry? For months, her family has been searching for answers following Crystal’s disappearance amid distressing circumstances in her personal life. After 90 days with no case progression, the family has turned to the missing person investigators at Lauth Investigations International to join the search for Crystal.
Crystal Marie Fry, 31, was last heard from on November 11, 2020. At the time of her disappearance, Crystal was living in Baltimore, MD with her boyfriend, the father of her two youngest daughters. On November 11, Crystal contacted her mother, Teresa Silverman, to explain some of the details of what she called the “worst three days of her life.” Crystal claimed someone had kicked in her front door, damaging it in the process, so she would be staying with the father of her oldest daughter until it could be fixed. It was during this time that Crystal reportedly claimed to be “afraid for her life.” The following day when she was expected to turn up to her mother’s home to explain more about the break-in, Crystal never showed up.
When she spoke to Lauth investigators, Teresa described her daughter as a beautiful mother who was always stepping up to help out, “She’s caring. If anything’s wrong, she steps right in and tries to help take care of people. She loves her girls to death.” Teresa advised Lauth Investigators that Crystal would never have gone this long without contacting her children, claiming that holidays and special occasions were very important to her. Crystal also shared passions for baking and cooking with her girls, who have been missing their mother for over three months.
The last person she was known to have contact with was the father of her oldest daughter, when she told him she got a flat tire on the way to his residence. In the weeks following their last communication, Teresa Silverman hit the streets, trying to find the location of her daughter’s last residence when she didn’t respond to messages. After days of searching, they were finally able to locate the townhouse where she had been staying in Baltimore where her car was parked out front—one of the tires still flat.
Since she reported her daughter missing, Teresa says her perception of law enforcement’s efforts to investigate Crystal’s case have been beyond disappointing, reporting difficulties getting updates on the case and a general feeling of apathy from police. Now she has contracted Lauth Investigations International to conduct an independent investigation concurrent with law enforcement to ensure that no lead is unexplored in her daughter’s disappearance. “The circumstances under which Crystal went missing are troubling, and our team is exploring multiple leads in her disappearance,” said lead investigator, Thomas Lauth. Lauth has over 30 years of experience investigating missing person cases of all types and is considered one of the country’s foremost experts in missing persons.
Crystal Marie Fry is 31 years old, is 5 feet 7 inches tall, weights approximately 135lbs and, has blue eyes and brown hair. You can donate to the GoFundMe for the independent investigation here.
Anyone with information please contact the Baltimore Police Department at 410-396-2221 or call 911.