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Missing Adults

If an Adult is Missing...

1. Call the police

  • File a missing person's report.
  • Ask the police to issue an Amber Alert, if applicable.
  • After a few hours, contact the following agencies to ensure the person's information was received: Minnesota Missing Persons Clearinghouse: (651) 739-7000

2. Close off the missing person's room

  • Do not clean, wash bedding or dirty clothing, or move objects around. These could contain evidence important to police.
  • Save the missing person's toothbrush and hairbrush/comb in a paper bag. Plastic bags smother biological evidence like DNA.
  • Do not delete or change anything on the computer the missing person uses, and do not try to find clues on your computer yourself; let the police handle it.

3. Collect photos of the missing person

  • Find up-close, candid, color photos of the missing person's face and shoulders. If these aren't available, find something close.
  • Make 20 color copies of the photos, and keep the originals in a safe place.
  • Keep electronic copies of the photos on your computer so you can easily email them.
  • Give copies of the photos to the police and anyone helping with poster production.

4. Write everything down

  • Use a notebook to record all incoming and outgoing calls, mail, messages, etc., about the missing person. Get Caller ID if you don't already have it.
  • Make lists of family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors and acquaintances who may have information. Contact these people and express your desire to find the missing person. Share this list with police.

Other Tips

  • Monitor the missing person's bank or credit card accounts to see if there have been any recent withdrawals or transactions. Pay close attention to gas station transactions. Do not cancel or close these accounts! 
  • Collect newspapers from the day before, the day of and the day after the missing person disappeared. They may provide clues about what was going on in your community at the time. 
  • Keep track of volunteers. If people volunteer to help with the search, write down their names, addresses, phone numbers, license plate numbers and driver's license numbers in your notebook. Ask police to run background checks on the volunteers. 
  • Think honestly about the missing person's recent behavior. Have they been acting differently lately in such a way that might suggest they were being abused? Have they made friend with anyone over the Internet? Do they have a history of depression or other mental illness, or drug use? Have they been in trouble with the law? Talk about these issues with the police and JWRC. Ask other people in the missing person's life for information as well. 
  • Get an answering machine or voicemail to ensure the missing person has a way of contacting you if you are not home. Consider recording an outgoing message directly addressing the missing person and asking them to come home. 
  • Create missing posters. NCMEC and/or JWRC can help with creating posters of the missing person for you to distribute. If you decide to make your own, do not list your home phone on the posters. The number of calls you receive may overwhelm you when you're already emotional. Let the police sort through the calls. 
  • Assign a family spokesperson to deal with media and other calls to your home, so that all information comes and goes through one central person. JWRC can act in this role. 
  • Take care of yourself. Remember to eat, rest and exercise. Seek out counseling and therapy to help process your emotions. Ask others to help with daily chores and duties. Reach out to organizations you belong to for support, such as faith communities, clubs and community groups.
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