Top 5 Language Apps for International Missing Person Investigators

Top 5 Language Apps for International Missing Person Investigators

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

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

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.

TripLingo

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.

Waygo

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

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.

Missing Persons: How to Set Up a GoFundMe Campaign

Missing Persons: How to Set Up a GoFundMe Campaign

The development of crowd-funding platforms such as GoFundMe has elevated an individual’s ability to see their financial goals realized. Whether the goal is retaining support for a passion project, or simply garnering a smaller sum to pull through a financial crisis or emergency, crowd-funding is making it all possible. One type of campaign that is becoming more and more vital is GoFundMe campaigns for missing persons.

When a person is reported missing, law enforcement jumps on the case to follow up on hot leads, interview witnesses, and gather evidence. While these services are obviously a public service, it’s not uncommon for the families of missing persons to also hire a private investigator to conduct a tandem investigation with law enforcement. Private investigators possess a level of autonomy and flexibility that law enforcement does not, and this can further progress on the case. Unless the private investigator agrees to do the investigation pro-bono, the investigation will need funding, and GoFundMe is just one of the many platforms where an investigation can be crowd-funded.

Signing up for GoFundMe is completely free, and setting up a campaign is blessedly easy. Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up a GoFundMe for a missing person.

  1. Choosing an email address
    • We all have that extra email address for spam and other platforms so we don’t clutter up our primary email inbox. However, in the case of a GoFundMe account, it’s always best to use a primary email address. GoFundMe allows you to use the email associated with your Facebook account for easier signup, but it’s imperative that you confirm that you still have access to that email address before you begin.
  2. Creating your campaign
    • After setting up the account, the next step is very simple. Just select ‘start a new campaign.’ GoFundMe allows individual users to have as many as 5 active campaigns running simultaneously.
    • When deciding on campaign goals, it’s important to remain realistic. You want an attainable amount for your specific goal. While the proposed retainer may be different depending on the private investigation firm you plan to hire, $10,000 is always a good starting target sum. GoFundMe allows you to edit the goal of the campaign, increasing or decreasing the goal as needed.
    • Creating a campaign title is crucial, because it is often the first thing potential donors will see when they see the campaign on social media or another promotional platform. It must be 35 characters or less, so every letter counts.
    • You must decide if you’re raising funds as an individual or as a team. In the case of many missing person campaigns, the campaign will be created and managed by between 1-3 members of the missing person’s family. If you are a private investigation firm managing a crowd-funding campaign, you’ll want to select the option to raise funds as a team. Like many aspects of the campaign, these things can be edited after the creation of the campaign.
  3. Adding a photo and a story
    • After you’ve agreed to GoFundMe’s terms and conditions, you’ll need to select a campaign image. In the case of a missing person, just like a poster, you’ll want to use a recent photo of the missing person, preferably smiling, and ideally in the outfit they were wearing when they were last seen. It’s also important that you include the same information you would include on a missing person’s poster, including their full name, physical description, any medical conditions, and the circumstances of their disappearance. GoFundMe denotes effective stories as ones that are incredibly descriptive and straightforward about why you are raising money and how the money will be spent. In the case of missing persons, these aspects are as straightforward as they come. Because of the potential for scams surrounding crowdfunding campaigns of all kinds, you’ll want to be transparent about your relationship to the missing person and the name of the investigating entity where the funds will go. The more personal you make the story, the more likely you are to receive a donation to the campaign.
  4. Sharing the campaign
    • You’ve made the campaign, but it won’t incur donations by just sitting there—you have to share it. Social media is one of the greatest tools available in a missing persons campaign. Of all the social media platforms, Facebook yields one of the highest levels of exposure to social media users. Facebook also has an interface that is designed for sharing contact quickly and easily. Twitter is an excellent platform to get the name of your missing person trending under a hashtag and increase potential donations. Don’t’ forget Instagram, where the missing person’s photo will be prominent.
  5. Continue to share
    • Social media is powerful, but you will only get out of it what you put into it. After the initial creation and sharing of the campaign, it’s important that you make a consistent, repetitive effort to share the campaign on all available platforms.
How PIs Find Missing Persons

How PIs Find Missing Persons

Private investigators use a wide variety of tools and experience to find missing persons. As of April 30, 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), reported a total of 86,927 missing persons in the United States. Though this number fluctuates month to month, the average number of 87,000 missing persons listed as active missing person cases in the National Crime Information Center at the FBI remains fairly consistent. Access to the NCIC computer database is restricted to use only by law enforcement.

It’s important to know there are different kinds of missing person cases in the NCIC database. The FBI categorizes missing persons into six different categories.

  • Juvenile
  • Endangered
  • Involuntary
  • Disability
  • Catastrophe

Most missing persons are found alive and well. Some may have a history of illness, want to avoid financial responsibilities, or may be simply avoiding family members (for varying reasons). Some may be in jail, a block away from their residence, or even a continent away, having left without notifying friends or family properly. However, there are also disappearances that are considered suspicious or “at risk” when a person may have diminished mental capacity suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or another mental health condition, and any juvenile runaway or missing child or when foul play is supected. These are referred to as Critical Cases.

When a person goes missing, family members typically report the missing person to a law enforcement agency but commonly begin to also conduct an investigation on their own. Without guidance, this can become an extremely emotional and daunting task.

The Use of Private Investigators in Missing Person Cases

The use of a private investigator during the investigation of the disappearance of a loved one, can be vital to finding them.

Private investigators commonly refer to missing persons as “locates”, and the majority are found fairly quickly. Some may be ecstatic a long-lost family member or friend has found them, while others may be annoyed, they have been located by a creditor, attorney, or someone they perceive as the enemy.

For most locates, a “checklist” is used of in-house resources that include accessing current and detailed data using a Social Security or driver’s license number, along with a date of birth. Detailed information can be obtained by multiple, professional and proprietary databases that licensed private investigators have access to. Social networking profiles and accessing a social circle or people can also be instrumental is missing person investigations. These databases can often provide addresses and even current employment for an individual. If that method does not produce the desired results, a more thorough investigation of the circumstance of the disappearance may be warranted, especially is “foul play” is suspected in the disappearance.

How a private investigator investigates a missing person case varies depending on their skill set and experience with only a handful in the country considered experts in their field.

A private investigator, commonly referred to as a PI or private detective, with expertise in missing person investigations, typically work directly with the family members of the person reported missing. Equally important, if a police agency is involved, a private investigator also works directly with the investigating law enforcement agency to preserve the integrity of the investigation.

Investigations are designed to route out common reasons that may contribute to the disappearance of a loved one, to confirm the facts surrounding the disappearance and make discovery. In the case of potential foul play, these discoveries are designed to discover probable suspects by the mistakes they make, as well as unintentional or intentional clues provided by the victim themselves.

This may involve pounding the pavement and knocking on some doors and important this type of investigation be conducted by a professional.

This may include discovering a person’s habits, hobbies and interests, questioning friends, neighbors or witnesses and even monitoring a “person of interest’s” activities. Of course, all information that is uncovered during an investigation by a professional PI is shared with the investigating law enforcement agency so as not to compromise the case.

missing persons investigation

In addition to an old-fashioned Sherlock Holmes investigation, some private investigators may also help raise public awareness of the disappearance of a loved one by providing guidance, assisting with social media efforts and coordinating with victim advocates from nonprofits, such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and other local advocacy groups for missing persons.

Thomas Lauth, CEO of Lauth Investigations International has been a private investigator for over 25-years and headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. With expertise in missing person investigations and working with media to raise awareness for missing person cases, Lauth has been featured in national media like USA Today, Essence Magazine, New York Times, and more. In addition to working with local and state police agencies, Lauth has also worked with most federal agencies such as, Interpol, the FBI, Department of Justice and Office for Victims of Crime.

Lauth has worked with hundreds of families of missing persons, while also working cooperatively with police and judicial agencies throughout the country, to include working with the National Center for Missing Adults. With over 40 years combined experience at Lauth Investigations, Lauth and his team specialize in the investigation of complex missing persons investigations of endangered or “at risk” missing children and adults.

“Finding missing persons is often more than just having experience in missing person investigations, it is a cooperative effort between the family, private investigators, advocacy groups, law enforcement and most importantly, the media,” says Lauth. “In the more difficult cases, it sometimes becomes imperative to reach out to the public because each time you generate the public interest and awareness, you increase the potential of generating that one lead needed to recover the missing person.”

Fast Facts on Missing Children

Fast Facts on Missing Children

Americans are captivated by missing child stories, haunted by the nagging specter of “What if this happened to my child?”

The year 2018 was punctuated by a handful of missing child cases that were covered by mainstream media, including Jayme Closs, Mollie Tibbetts, and Karlie Gusé. Interest in missing children cases continues to grow with the production of documentaries and docuseries about famous missing child cases, like Madeline McCann and Jan Broberg. This cultivated curiosity can only benefit the ultimate goal of keeping a missing person’s face in the public eye in the interest of unearthing unexplored leads in their cases. Here is a list of fast facts about missing child cases to inform coverage in the media and online.

Missing Children

Law enforcement in the United States received reports of 424,066 missing children in 2018.

The FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person File states that as of December 31st, 2018, there were 85,459 active missing person records in which children under the age of 18 account for 34%.

It’s estimated that 1,435 kidnappings occur every year, but due in large part to a majority of those being familial abductions, not all have likely been reported.

The Second National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Throwaway Children released by the Department of Justice in 2002, spanning the years of 1997-1999, reported that 203,900 of the 797,500 reported missing children in a one-year period were abducted by family members, and 58,200 were abducted by non-relatives. 115 of those reported cases were classified as stranger abductions.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, since 1965, there have been 325 reported infant abductions in the United States. Of those abducted children, 140 were taken from healthcare facilities, 138 were taken from the home, and 47 were abducted from other locations. Of those abducted infants, 16 remain missing.

Amber Alerts

Not all missing minors and children qualify for Amber Alerts. America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response Alerts are emergency messages broadcast when a law enforcement agency determines that a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger. The broadcasts include information about the child and the abductor, including physical descriptions as well as information about the abductor’s vehicle—which could lead to the child’s recovery. Missing children and teenagers who are classified as “runaways” may not qualify for an Amber Alert because there is no evidence of abduction.

When people think of abductions, they likely think of stranger danger and violent attacks. However, in 2016, 60% of all AMBER Alerts that were issued were for abductions committed by a family member.

Since 1997, the AMBER Alert Program has been responsible for the safe recovery of 957 children.

The AMBER Alert system was named for Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and killed in 1996.

Missing Children in Media

Etan Patz, a six-year-old boy who disappeared on his way to his bus stop in Manhattan, was one of the first missing children to be featured on a milk carton.

Media coverage of missing child cases has been elevated in recent years by American television personality John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted. John Walsh became an anti-crime advocate following the disappearance and murder of his son, Adam Walsh, in 1981.

The disappearance of 3-year-old Madeline McCann is often regarded as one of the highest-profile missing child cases globally.

Sex Trafficking

NCMEC received 23,500 reports of endangered runaways in 2018. One in seven of those children were estimated to be victims of sex trafficking.

The average age of a child sex trafficking victim is 15 years old, according to NCMEC reports.

Child sex trafficking has been reported in every single state in the United States.

The age group of children targeted by strangers in abductions are female children aged 12-17. This aligns with approximate age range of minor children targeted for sex trafficking.

Online predators

The average minor victim of online predatory behavior is 15 years of age.

Of the predators targeting minor victims online, 82% are male, 9% are female, and 9% could not be determined.

Online predators most commonly target children on social media, photo sharing platforms, and video gaming platforms.

Autism & wandering

Between 2007 and 2017, 952 children with autism were reported missing to NCMEC. In 61% of cases, those children were classified as “endangered runaways” or lost, injured, or otherwise missing (20%).

Almost half of the cases of children were autism reported (48%) were recovered within one day of going missing, and 74% were recovered within 7 days.

We can help…

If your child has gone missing, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free consultation and learn how our expertise and experience can provide you answers in the search for your missing child. Call 317-951-1100, or visit us online at www.lauthmissingpersons.com

How PIs Find Missing Persons

How to Write a Press Release

When you are in the midst of a traumatic experience, it’s hard to look beyond the immediate crisis.

When a loved one goes missing, it’s hard to think about issuing a press release and why it may be so important to learn in the initial days folmlowing the missing person report.

How important is a press release when some we love goes missing?

Digital communication is the most used form of communication in the United States. When a person goes missing, it becomes paramount to notify as many people as possible in order to generate leads for law enforcement, and finding missing persons is a cooperative effort between law enforcement, media and families of missing persons.

Press releases and other forms of digital communication offer the important opportunity to provide important details about the case to thousands of people, along with disseminating descriptive information and photographs of the missing person. In addition, an effective missing person press release becomes the most important form of communication between a victim family and the news media.

Some may have the resources to hire a professional to write a press release. While this is a great option, there are other considerations one must be aware of and familiar with to write an effective and professional press release while also preserving the integrity of the case for law enforcement, so as not to compromise an investigation.

When writing a press release, samples can be difficult to find and replicate. Honestly, they can be tough to write because few people understand their structure. Exceptional press releases all contain certain elements. These elements should be present in all press releases written.

When you know what to include in your press release, along with how to structure it, your release will be more legible, credible, and useful for readers.

Following are foundational tips to help guide you through the process of writing a press release for a missing person case.

  • If you are ready for your press release to go public, use the words “IMMEDIATE RELEASE” at the top of the press release. If the release needs to be held for a day or two put “HOLD RELEASE UNTIL” and add a date.
  • All words in your headline should be in Title Case, meaning the words in your headline should be capitalized except for prepositions and words under four letters.
  • Include the City, State, Month, Day and Year. Press releases are meant for wide audiences, but it is also important to connect them with your geographical location and including your local information is critical.
  • Throughout your press release try to use keywords such as missing person, missing adult, missing child, abduction, disappearance, kidnapping, and others depending upon the circumstances of the disappearance. It is not necessary to go overboard with the use of keywords: just include them naturally throughout the release.
  • Write a summary paragraph to help readers immediately understand to help journalists understand what the press release is about so they can make a decision whether to cover the story or not. The who, what, where, when and why should all be included in a press release. A summary paragraph must be interesting and compelling to readers so use it to include the most relevant information, while laying out the key points of the press release.
  • Six Elements need to be included.
  • Who. Who is the press release about? Who are the main players?
  • What. What is the topic of the press release? Why should readers care about the release?
  • Why. Why are you sending out the release?
  • When. When is the subject of the release taking place?
  • Where. Where is the activity taking place?
  • How. How does the subject of your release provide value? How does it help your readers?
  • Finish It Up with a Compelling Last Paragraph

Sample Release

Contact: Mandy Harris

Telephone 602-000-0000

Email: manyharris101@gmail.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Family and Police Seeking Information About Jane Doe Who Vanished from a Waltan Parking Lot

Phoenix, Ariz. April 15, 2019/ Today, Phoenix Police Department announced they are searching for information from the public about the disappearance of Jane Doe, 21, who mysteriously vanished after a north Phoenix parking lot on Sunday evening. At an upcoming press conference, police, along with family members of Jane Doe will be sharing information with the public to help locating the missing Arizona State University student.

Sunday, April 15, 2019, at approximately 6 p.m. Jane Doe was seen on a security camera entering the Waltan store located at 19th Avenue and Bell Road. She proceeded to purchase a couple items and left within ten minutes.  Upon leaving, Jane Doe walked to the northwest side of the parking lot where her white 2014 Honda Civic was parked. There, an unidentified male, possibly white or Hispanic, can be seen on the security footage speaking to Jane Doe who continued to get into her vehicle and leave through the west entrance. Moments later, a 2001-2003 maroon Dodge Durango with the same man driving was seen slowly following the white Honda Civic out of the parking lot heading north on 19th Avenue. The maroon Dodge Durango is also being sought by police in several other attempted abductions.

A press conference is scheduled on Tuesday April 16, 2019, in the Waltan Parking lot where Jane Doe was last seen. Accompanied by the Phoenix Police Department, Jane Doe’s two adult sisters, Mandy Harris and Leah Martin, will speak to reporters about the search for their baby sister. 

In addition to discussing the case of Jane Doe, Phoenix Police is expected to issue a warning to citizens regarding the maroon Dodge Durango suspected in the attempted abductions of several other women in the North Valley. 

For information please call Mandy Harris at 602-000-000.

# End of Release #

Missing in Paradise

Missing in Paradise

Couple vanishes while on vacation in Dominican Republic

Orlando Moore and Portia Ravenelle vanished while on a tropical vacation in the Dominican Republic.

A romantic trip to the Caribbean sounds just like what the doctor ordered as the warmer weather approaches. Unfortunately for one New York couple, a mysterious series of events on their vacation to the Dominican Republic culminated in tragedy, leaving their families searching for answers.

Orlando Moore and Portia Ravenelle documented their adventure through SnapChat—photos in front of lush greenery, photos with wildlife. The gregarious couple managed to make friends with other tourists who were staying at their resort, the Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa. The couple was last seen sharing a drink with this couple on their last night at the resort. Nothing was amiss when they said their goodbyes and headed back to the airport in the rental car they’d procured. Little else is known about the fate of Orlando and Portia, but what we do know is that they did not board their scheduled flight in Santo Domingo, and their rental car never made it back to the agency.

When their families did not hear from the couple, Orlando’s sister Lashay Turner told the media she contacted the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic. Upon learning they Americans were missing, a police report was filed and a search began, with a social media campaign urging anyone with information to come forward.

After two weeks, authorities finally began to piece together what had happened. National Police on the island announced they believed the couple had been killed in a car crash along a stretch of Las Americas Highway, which runs right along the coast. Portia Ravenelle was found on the side of the road with injuries that would eventually end her life an estimated nine days after the alleged car crash. Orlando Moore’s body was found almost 13 miles from this crash site, and was found to be in state of advanced decomposition. Despite this discovery and the fact that the body had an arm tattoo that matched one Orlando had, police have not yet confirmed his identity. While authorities have not released information on exactly where they were found or the nature of their deaths, local fishermen reported seeing a vehicle in the water, but the current had been too perilous to recover it. U.S. officials commented, “We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. The U.S. Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad have no greater responsibility than the protection of U.S. citizens overseas. Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment.”

When people go missing overseas, the family’s search for answers can be tricky. A quality initial investigation is dependent on a level of communication between departments oceans away. Missing person Investigator, Thomas Lauth, specializes in complex missing person cases and thoroughly recommends retaining a private investigator to conduct an investigation in tandem with federal and foreign authorities. “You just can’t get that level of autonomy from any investigative body supervised by government or a municipality. There is a chain of command and bureaucratic red tape that tends to get in the way of following a time-sensitive lead, or some jurisdictional boundaries that may prevent them from following that lead in the first place. A private investigator can follow any clue to a missing person’s trail without having to get permission first.”

When a family or friend fears that their loved one has gone missing overseas, Lauth has a few suggestions of where to look before assuming the worst.

  • Check the hotel where the loved one stayed, speak with hotel staff who serviced them.
  • Check hospitals on disembarking routes where they traveled.
  • Speak to airport personnel and verify whether or not they got on the flight.
  • Speak with the United States Department and the local embassy.
  • Travel to their last confirmed location and immediately engage the local authorities.

If one of your loved ones has gone missing overseas, contact Lauth Investigations International today to speak to a knowledgeable member of our investigative team and learn how we can help you. Thomas Lauth has over 20 years of experience specializing in complex missing person cases. Call 317-951-1100, or find us online at www.lauthmissingpersons.com