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Tue Feb 2, 2021, 09:24 AM

 

(2) How Unsolved Missing Person Cases Are Solved (Pt. 2) [View all]

Last edited Sat Feb 6, 2021, 11:07 AM - Edit history (7)

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One Missing Person is One Person too Many
Pt. 1: https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1016&pid=280631
An Interview I Did: https://www.democraticunderground.com/12022158


In Part 1, I quickly skimmed over what we did at the Doe Network, and to correct that, here's a little more information.


Finding a missing person is one thing, and that's hard enough, but trying to match up an unidentified body with a missing person is a whole 'nother ball of wax.

Once a body is found, LE immediately cordons off the area, and then photos and measurements are taken. After that, the forensic team takes over and scours the area for any clues and bags anything that remotely seems relevant.

After the body is moved, autopsied, and along with all the evidence, it's then determined what the cause of death was. Whether it was a death by an unknown cause, accident, suicide, natural cause, or by homicidal intent, and unfortunately, sometimes it's hard to tell because of the condition of the body, but that's not always impossible.

Most of you know this already from movies, TV, or reading books, but what is rarely mentioned or explained is what happens when you can't identify a deceased person.

After LE exhaust all possible means of identifying the deceased, and even if LE can prove that it's a homicide, there's not much more they can really do about it.

Why? Because of the way homicide investigations are conducted. First, they interview family members and close associates, collecting alibis, and then they try to construct a timeline of when they were last seen alive and what they did until then, but all of that's impossible if you don't know who the person is.

About all they can do at that point is appeal to the public and ask for more information, and that's where the Doe Network and other similar organizations come into play.

Some of the volunteers with the Doe Network did spend time looking for missing persons, but mostly, what our group did was match the unidentified with the missing.

There was no set procedure for doing this because each case is different, but basically what needed to be done was to narrow it down to a specific area where they were from, and then down to a specific group of people that were still missing.

Two things that you had to keep in mind:

1) The unidentified might never have been reported as missing.
2) Just because an unidentified was found in one area doesn't mean that's where they came from or died.

After one of the team picked out an unidentified to concentrate on, they examined all the clues LE supplied, and then went from there.

Anything can be used as a clue, clothes, hairstyle, tattoos, nail polish, scrapes and bruises, broken bones, teeth, eyeglasses etc.

Let's pretend that you've chosen an unidentified, looked over the evidence, and for some reason, the picture of one tattoo looks familiar, so you decide to run that lead down and see what comes up.

Unless you're an experienced tattoo artist, the first thing you'd need to do is to get educated and learn everything you can about it. You can either hit the books, search the web, or talk with someone who's already an expert.

There must be tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of tattoo shops all over the world, and most of them have websites and contact information. There's also chatrooms, bulletin boards, websites, and Facebook pages run by and for tattoo enthusiast.

While you're talking with them online, or in person, make sure you mention what you're working on and show them the photo.

You might find out that the tattoo was probably done in prison, or that the style is from a specific artist, or that everyone and their brother gets that particular tattoo.

By the time you get done with all of that, you should have tons of information, but also hundreds of new leads and possible avenues to follow, until finally, you get an "AHA!" moment, and that's when all the pieces start to fall into place.

You also have to realize that there's a reason why more than 40,000 bodies are still unidentified in the US, and that the solution very rarely ever just drops in your lap, if it ever drops at all, but when it does, all that work, time, and energy will've been worth it.

For me, it was also a sad moment, because now a missing person was no longer just missing anymore, and all their hopes and dreams were gone too, and that's the part that always made me cry and still does.

Anyway, the members used the group chatroom (Yahoo) to communicate back and forth, and it's where everyone got updated on current searches, results, and also request for advice and suggestions on what to do next.

It was madness just trying to keep track of it, but that was somebody else's job, thank God.

To give you a better idea of what's involved, I'll leave you with this video about Todd Matthews. He's not only one of the founders of the Doe Network, but also a very good friend:


Todd Matthews - Solving a 30-Year-Old Murder Mystery Using the Internet





When Todd Matthews first tried to work out the identity of ‘Tent Girl’, an unknown woman who’d been found dead wrapped in a canvas sheet, it seemed impossible. Then the internet came along.

Tent Girl had been missing since the 1960s, but it wasn’t until Matthews took his search online, creating the website tentgirl.com in 1997, that officials were finally able to identify her. Long before the days of Netflix’s Don’t F**k With Cats, he became the world’s first cyber sleuth.

His work inspired thousands of amateur internet detectives investigating missing persons cases and unsolved crimes all over the world. We met him to find out how the internet shifted the way investigations are shaped and the legacy he created by identifying Tent Girl.
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ETA: If you have a minute, could you please take a poll about missing persons here:
https://www.democraticunderground.com/100214801094
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