When a family member goes missing, it strikes fear in the heart of loved ones but panicking will not help the situation. The following steps can narrow the search and if authorities become involved will help them streamline the process.
Contact authorities. Tell them you do not wish to wait 24 hours because your family member is not one to wander off, therefore, you consider this to be completely out of character and need immediate assistance from law enforcement.
Compile a quick list of the missing person’s friends, co-workers and acquaintances. Divide the list among several family members and contact every name on it to find out if anyone is with or has recently seen your loved one. Ask each person called where they think your family member may be. Write notes next to each name on the list so if needed you can give it to authorities for investigation or follow-up.
Contact all hospitals and jails within a 100 mile radius of where your loved one was last seen. Hospitals might decline to comment due to HIPPA but jails will tell you if he or she is there. Ask the hospitals if you can fax a photo of your loved one to them to put on the ER bulletin board with contact information.
Ask everyone you know to share on Facebook, Twitter, etc. a photo of your loved one and contact information.
Gather various photos of your loved one in different poses, smiling and not smiling. Make copies to give authorities. Use the others to put on fliers. Form a volunteer team to post fliers in places that get a lot of foot traffic such as gas stations, bus stations, homeless shelters and grocery stores.
Be completely honest with authorities if your loved one has been involved in drug, illegal or suspicious activities lately. The goal is to find your family member. The police will not judge your loved one nor will they reduce their efforts just because he or she might have been involved in something illegal before going missing.
Hold events to keep attention on your missing loved one. Candlelight vigils, walks etc. are effective. Invite local media to cover the events so it stays in the news.
Final Thoughts: Do not put your personal contact information on anything. Give out the authority’s phone numbers and if desired buy a prepaid cell phone and use that number on fliers etc.