Custodial Kidnapping: Hiring a Private Investigator

Custodial Kidnapping: Hiring a Private Investigator

custodial kidnapping

Most parents have their children’s’ best interests at heart, but when tempers flare or tense domestic disputes arise, a parent or guardian may act impulsively without thinking about the consequences. Custodial kidnapping—otherwise known as parental kidnapping—describes when one parent takes their child without the consent of the other. How complex the situation that follows becomes will depend on whether or not a custody order has been violated, and how challenging the abducting parent is to find. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s imperative to know how to proceed in the case of a custodial kidnapping.

Violation of a Court-Ordered Custody Agreement

In the case of divorced or separated parents—or indeed any other circumstance where a custody order may already be in place—a clear violation can allow you to act. Taking a child will certainly prevent “parenting time”, custodial, or visitation rights from being met. In a case such as this, you can file a motion for contempt of court, and reach out to your child custody office for enforcement support. If you have reason to believe your child is in danger, you can also contact local authorities in the event of a custodial kidnapping.

When There is No Custody Order In Place

When custodial kidnapping or parental kidnapping occurs that is not in breach of a custody agreement, the parent left behind can find themselves left in a much more complex situation. Your goal should be to seek an emergency custody order from the courts, however presenting a body of evidence to support that order will be vital. A parent leaving their home state with a child does not necessarily equate to breaking the law. Your filing will have to demonstrate that the kidnapping parent or guardian is actively evading the jurisdiction of the courts, doesn’t have the wellbeing of the child in mind, or is putting the child at direct risk.


When to Call In a Private Investigator

Any parent whose child has disappeared is bound to feel that time is of the essence. A licensed private investigator will be perfectly poised to jump directly on the trail of your child before it goes cold. They will also be able to assist with compiling an airtight case that will stand up to the scrutiny of a judge. Because of the deeply emotional nature of custodial kidnappings, a private investigator can prove indispensable—providing all-important impartiality as a documented body of evidence is built that will support your cause in court.

At times, parental kidnappings can distressingly unfold into a hide and seek scenario. Causing great heartache to the parent or guardian left behind, tracking and tracing the child in question can become the absolute number one priority. For moments such as these, our team of missing person investigators here at Lauth Missing Persons bring 30 years of dedicated experience to the table—having located not only missing adults and children in the US, but also those missing overseas. Should you discover that your child may have been taken abroad, we are equipped to step up the search to an international scale without missing a beat.

Turning to Trusted Missing Person Specialists in a Moment of Crisis

Here at Lauth, missing person investigators offer a bounty of experience in helping parents to navigate child custody cases and quickly locating children who have been kidnapped by a guardian. Drawing on a depth of legal and jurisdictional understanding, we can help you assess the current crisis; advise on your options; liaise with your lawyer, authorities, and applicable NGOs; and act with urgency to keep your child safe.
If you are in the midst of a custodial kidnapping and want help in building a case or urgently locating your child, we are on hand to help. Learn more about our process, or contact our team today to learn more.

Essential Strategies for Protecting Your Children Online in 2021

Essential Strategies for Protecting Your Children Online in 2021

Every parent wants to protect their children against the dangers of the world, in the hopes that they will flourish and thrive. As missing person experts here at Lauth Missing Persons, we know that each year that passes makes it increasingly important that we safeguard our loved ones against threats that may lurk behind a screen, just as much as those out in the everyday world. Happily, protecting children online is something that any parent can learn to do with a little guidance.

Today’s children are more computer literate than any generation that came before them. Most toddlers master their parent’s smartphones with dizzying speed, and the Covid-19 pandemic certainly transformed devices into necessary portals, allowing the young to stay connected with friends and get schoolwork done. Framed by the ever-online reality of modern life, how can parents allow their kids to enjoy the bounties of the digital era without exposure to the risks? Read on for our top strategies for protecting your children online in 2021.

Set Parental Controls on Your Devices

There are a range of digital tools available to parents who want to keep their children safe online. Many web browsers and sites offer these services for free—for example Google’s SafeSearch allows you to block out sites that contain adult or illegal material. Content filters like these prevent accidental discovery of violent or sexually explicit content online, while usage controls allow you to time-limit or prevent certain types of device use. Parental monitoring tools help you keep an eye on which sites or apps your children access. While a variety of free tools can be harnessed, many parents take comfort in using paid parental control software, for an iron clad level of security.

Teach Your Children to Be “Share Aware”

With innocent young minds, few children are aware of the potential dangers of sharing personal information online. Details ranging from locational information to photographs, email addresses, phone numbers, schools, and even private thoughts can each become a vulnerability in the wrong hands. As such, teaching your children to be “share aware” can help them avoid heartache or danger in the future. Everything that goes out online can be considered our “digital footprint”, and it can be difficult to know how far it will travel. If they wouldn’t share that information or image with a total stranger, then they should never post it online—even privately—and if they feel unsure, they can always ask you before they click.

Talk to Your Children About Who They Connect With Online

Parents will always vet who their children spend time with in the real world, so it stands to reason that the same should be true online. Without the life experience to teach them otherwise, children can be naive about who they trust, and what they believe. An important part of protecting children online is discussing their digital social circles, and educating young minds on what constitutes bullying or unacceptable behavior. Teach your children to be social media savvy, including how to block unwanted contacts, and report inappropriate or offensive posts so that they can protect themselves and others too.

Lead By Example and Keep the Dialog Flowing

Modeling courteous, safety conscious, and responsible online etiquette can influence your children more than you know. Be sure to set a good example, including limiting your own screen time. Encourage free conversation with your children about what they do online, and ask them to show you the different sites and apps that they enjoy. Keep screens and devices in shared spaces, or check in regularly when your child is using a device in another room. By making all things virtual at least a partially shared experience, you are far more likely to be the first port of call if your child ever feels unsafe online.
The missing person investigations team here at Lauth Missing Persons often encounter families who are facing their worst parental fears. To combat these moments, we encourage focusing on safety awareness from an early age, protecting children online, and staying informed about contemporary risks. If you have reason to doubt the safety of your child, the team at Lauth Missing Persons may be able to assist. Learn more about what we do, or contact us today.

How to Find a Missing Person Overseas

How to Find a Missing Person Overseas

Your loved one is on the other side of the world, having the adventure of a lifetime. They check in at the same time every day—that was, until yesterday, when you didn’t hear from them at all. Today, the hours pass in slow motion, and the window for their second missed check in comes and goes. What do you do when someone goes missing overseas?

The idea of the disappearance of a loved one is alarming under any circumstances, but when someone we care about goes missing overseas, the prospect becomes even more daunting. The reality is that most people don’t have a clear sense of what steps to take when somebody vanishes. Whether a family member, a friend, a partner, or a colleague, a clear course of action can help you safeguard their wellbeing. If your loved one goes missing overseas, the missing persons investigations team here at Lauth Investigations recommends taking the following steps.


Try To Make Direct Contact

Your gut may be telling you that something is wrong, but all sorts of things can cause a person to go incommunicado abroad—including time differences, poor communications infrastructure, or losing their phone and luggage. Attempting to contact them through every avenue available will clarify the situation, so try to reach out by phone and text, by email, and on social media. Also look for any public conversations they have had on social media with others that will indicate all is well.

Contact Others Who May Be Aware of Their Whereabouts

Reach out to friends, travel companions, and colleagues who may have more information or be aware of the missing person’s movements. If a group were travelling together, reach out to the families of others to see if they have been in contact too. Consider contacting hotels, local venues, travel agents, and airlines. While these third party professionals may not be able to share details with you, they will be able to prompt your loved one to make contact when they see them, and will be able to share information with the authorities if they later become involved.

Reaching Out To the Authorities

When someone goes missing overseas, it is vital to file a missing persons report both with local authorities, and with the authorities of your/their home country. If the person in question is a U.S. citizen, you can also contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Embassy and consulate staff will be able to advise on the best way to locate a person in their area, and will also be able to check local reports for hospitalizations or arrests, and connect directly with local authorities and organizations. If the person missing overseas is a minor, or considered vulnerable in some way, the country in question may be able to issue an Amber Alert or equivalent. Prepare to provide as much information as possible, including:

  • Full name
  • Recent photographs
  • Passport/ID number
  • Place and date of birth
  • Citizenship status
  • All known itineraries and plans, past and future
  • Overseas contact details
  • Names and contact information for known friends and associates

What Else To Do When Someone Is Missing Overseas

When a loved one is missing overseas, it is easy to feel powerless. However, there are lots of other steps that can be taken. You can create a social media campaign to raise awareness of the missing status of your loved one. You can also contact local media outlets with details and photographs so that they can help you raise awareness. If you choose to travel where the missing person was last seen, consider if you will need help from an interpreter, and what resources you will require when you get there.

Some travel insurance policies cover search and rescue, so consider if your loved one may have a policy that you can initiate a claim from. Explore local organizations that provide support for missing person investigations—these may be able to advise you on further resources and strategies such as offering rewards within a culture that is potentially unfamiliar.
When concerns run high—and certainly when local authorities are unhelpful—turning to an international private investigators firm with missing persons specialists ready to go out in the field can be indispensable. Here at Lauth Missing Persons, we offer a highly skilled and experienced team with just the skill set required to locate someone missing overseas. If you need help in locating your loved one, contact our team today.

Search Continues for Ryan Larsen, Missing Boy with Autism

Search Continues for Ryan Larsen, Missing Boy with Autism

ryan larsen

Cases of missing children are always more fraught than those of missing adults, but missing child cases can be even further compounded when missing children have neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. This requires a specialized approach in the missing person investigation that can present particular challenges, like the ones investigators have faced in searching for Ryan Larsen, 12. It’s been over 125 days since Ryan disappeared from his school last May, and investigators are still stymied on what exactly happened in the moments before his disappearance.

Ryan Larsen walked away from La Vista West Elementary school in La Vista, Nebraska on May 17, 2021. Following the report of his disappearance, police launched a comprehensive search of land, air, and water in the nearby areas only to come up with nothing. Unfortunately, investigators were staring down a long tunnel with no answers. In a press conference nearly a month ago, La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten said “After the initial period of searching by land, by air, and the water, things went a little bit stagnant.”

Just like any missing person case, the Ryan Larsen case has been subject to a barrage of self-proclaimed psychics who claim they know what happened to Ryan, but none of the tips investigators have received have panned out. When Ryan’s umbrella was found by a dumpster near his family’s home, landfill assessment experts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in pursuit of the theory that Ryan might have accidentally fallen in the dumpster and had ended up in the landfill. Lausten also told the media, “They did an analysis and the possibility of that would be very minute, the lowest probability on the scale of that happening. So there’s no evidence we had that it actually happened, but we wanted to rule out even those remote possibilities.”

In hopes of better preparing the La Vista Police Department to better handle cases such as Ryan’s, they have launched a new community program called “Take Me Home.” The program will allow members of the community to help law enforcement with information on their children with special needs, or vulnerable adults. “Getting information about special needs kids, people or vulnerable adults and have that in a database so if we do get a call, for example of an Alzheimer’s patient that walks away from their house, the information we will have already is what places they frequent if they have done this before, where were they found before,” explained Lausten. “So when we’re en route to the call, officers can get into areas quickly and we can get the search going.”

This kind of program has the ability to accelerate the processes behind missing person investigations and benefit future missing persons. Future emergencies can be more quickly resolved and increase the chances of a vulnerable missing person being found.

Ryan Larsen is described as white, 5’8” tall, with brown hair and hazel eyes. At the time of his disappearance, he was wearing a black jacket, blue jeans, an Old Navy Shirt, and was carrying a polka dot umbrella. If you see Ryan, authorities say not to call his name; instead, keep your distance and call 911. Anyone with information about his location should call Sarpy County Crimestoppers at 402-592-STOP (7867); or call 911. LVPD is also urging the public to use its See It, Say It, Send It app to submit tips, but to also “be mindful of unsubstantiated rumors circulating on this case.”

The Difficulties of International Missing Person Investigations

The Difficulties of International Missing Person Investigations

When a person goes missing, the onset of the investigation is already overwhelming for the family and loved ones of that missing person. Investigators who take the initial report need a cornucopia of information in order to get an idea of their schedule, their habits, and who they were close to in their lives. From there, investigators develop a plan for search and recovery of that missing person. One of the only things that could exacerbate these circumstances further is when a loved one goes missing abroad. International missing person investigations already require the cooperation of several entities that could be easily tied up in red tape. The apprehension associated with a strange country where you don’t speak the language and are not familiar with their legal system further compounds the panic that sets in when a loved one goes missing abroad. That’s why loved ones need to consult an international missing person investigator to ensure that no stone goes unturned.

Missing person investigations are inherently a tricky business. Though there are certainly observable patterns in missing person victimology, every case is different, and each case demands a unique approach. While a missing person report and investigation must be initiated with law enforcement, many families of missing persons will tell you that their local police or sheriff department was ill-equipped to handle the disappearance of their loved one. This could be due to a lack of labor, resources, or an overwhelming caseload for investigators. Regardless of the source of the issue, all roads lead to lost time in a missing person investigation. All missing person investigators will tell you that the first 48-72 hours of any missing person investigation are the most crucial, because that is the window of time when relevant witnesses and evidence are still fresh. Unfortunately, in the case of international missing person cases, the time in which it could take to properly facilitate the launch of a missing person investigation, these important leads could be lost. International investigations come with unique quirks depending on the country, but with regards to Americans who go missing abroad, families can expect to encounter problems with language barriers, lack of knowledge about the law enforcement systems in place, and general confusion when it comes to navigating the investigation.

One such case where an international missing person investigation faced similar issues was the case of Travis Sackett. Lauth Investigations International recently joined the search for the missing Batavia, New York man who went missing while travelling abroad in Ecuador back in February 2021. On the day of his disappearance, Travis was reportedly on his way to hike the nearby Imbabura Volcano. When he did not report to work the next morning on the farm where he had been working and living, his host reported him missing. In the initial stages of the investigation, searches for Travis by local law enforcement were very spaced out due to poor weather conditions, and valuable time was lost in the onset. Despite the crucial direction of local guides and the dedication of independent investigators, there have still been no answers in the search for Travis.

An international missing person investigator can run a concurrent investigation with local law enforcement into the disappearance of an American who goes missing overseas. While local law enforcement runs their protocol in missing person investigations, an independent investigator can turn over proverbial stones that law enforcement lacks the time or resources to investigate. If your family is struggling with a loved one who’s gone missing abroad, please reach out to Lauth Investigations International for a free consultation on how our missing person investigators can help you find answers.

Search continues for Xavior Harrelson

Search continues for Xavior Harrelson

missing boy

Eleven year-old Xavior Harrelson has been missing for over a week since he disappeared from his Montezuma, Iowa mobile home park on May 27, 2021. He was last seen around   11 a.m. wearing a red t-shirt, blue pajama pants, and black high-top shoes. He has brown hair, blue eyes, and stands 4’8” tall.

According to Xavior’s mother, the boy left the mobile home—she reportedly assumed—to play with friends. The mobile home park itself is very close to a nearby park. Diamond Lake County Park spans more than 660 acres of wooded land and includes over 100 campsites for tourists and locals. In the days since Xavior disappeared, the Poweshiek Coutny Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation have deployed resources to comb the area surrounding the mobile home park, including scent-dogs, ATVs, drones, a dive team, and temperature-sensitive technology. Finding no sign of Xavior, investigators are continuing to develop new leads in the case. Mitch Mortvedt, the assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said in a statement, “All we really know for sure right now is that Xavior was reported missing on Thursday and we know what he was possibly wearing when he left the house. Other than that, we don’t know anything for sure.”

The circumstances of Xavior’s disappearance are nebulous, with investigators unsure of whether he got lost while playing with his friends, or if he was taken under more nefarious circumstances. Despite searching within a half-mile radius of the boy’s home, investigators have yet to uncover a trace of what may have happened to Xavior. “It’s certainly suspicious that he seems to have just disappeared and no one has seen him, “Mortvedt said, “but there is no evidence that is definitively pushing the needle one way or another. There is nothing to indicate that his disappearance was criminal, though we are certainly looking at that angle.”

It was Xavior’s family friend who first reported the boy as missing when she did not see him out riding his bike on Thursday morning. It is highly unusual for a neighbor to report a young child like Xavior missing before the parents, but Samantha Rix told KCCI8 in Des Moines that she felt compelled to speak for the little boy, “The other thing I can’t really wrap my head around is why isn’t anybody in the family gone on here? And so that’s why I’m Xavior’s voice. And that’s how I feel. And that’s why I keep doing this, because somebody has to speak for him.”

In excess of 500 volunteers, first-responders, and investigators have dedicated time towards searching for Xavior. It’s the second time the community has had to step up for a missing citizen in only a few short years. Around the same time almost three years ago, the community was searching for 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared while on a jog. “To be right back here, you know, working out of the sheriff’s office and in the same communities as we were three—almost three years ago—when Mollie disappeared, it’s frightening.”

If you have any information on the disappearance of Xavior Harrelson, you’re asked to call the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 641-623-2107.