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Missing Persons



The phenomena of missing persons is huge but seemingly little investigated. Thousands of people vanish every year without being found. Where do they all go? What's your theory?
Here's some facts and figures from the UK National Missing Persons Helpline:

"It is estimated that about 250 000 people are reported missing in the UK each year. The vast majority return safe and sound within 72 hours - but thousands do not; NMPH receives thousands of missing persons reports every year, but on a positive note the charity helps to resolve 60% of cases it works on. It receives more than 200 000 calls per year.

Very little general information exists on missing adults. NMPH has begun researching this area because there is a dearth of statistical information and analysis on missing persons.
The Helpline's database indicates that
 The younger the missing adult, the more likely (s)he is to turn up;
 Males aged 24 - 33 are more likely to disappear than any other group (the peak ages are 28 and 29)
 Female adults are more likely to go missing the younger they are (the peak ages are 26 and 27)
 More turn up in March than any other month "
I agree with you, Dark Detective, a large number of people seem to disappear in the UK, never to reappear. I remember back in 1964, a bloke called Ellison wrote a book suggesting that then 9,000 people were disappearing each year & that was probably an underestimate even then.

I just can't belive that they are beamed up to UFO's, or drop through cracks in reality, BUT, in this day & age, when we need NI numbers, just to start a job, where do they go too?
Can it be established whether any of these people would have a good reason for disappearing, eg, depressed, bad marriage/relationship, bad debts, etc?

And are there any instances of people who 'appear from nowhere' who are not illegal immigrants/asylum seekers?

Those statistics are rather worrying, Detective!


The problem with missing persons carole, often seems to be the person who reports them, "I kicked the s**t out of them every night for the last ten years" seems to become: "I don't know any reason for them to leave me". From the male prospective it often seems that the wife/female partner has unrealistic expectations as to he males earning/providing prospects.Which lends to the same sort of report.

The few missing people who are found, generally have found a more relaxed sort of life & don't want to return.
Seeing that most estimates put the British black economy at a turnover of several billion a year, that's probably large enough to support 9,000 mispers per year.
Plus its ricidioulsy even to get/create a new id, using the classic Fred Forysyth, Day of the Jackel system (hang around in a graveyard, find somebody dead who is the same age of you, request their birth certificate, use that as a foundation for all your other id's).
There was a good documentry about it on Channel Four. Most people who did get caught or found out because they couldn't maintain the discipline of staying away from their hometowns and orginial family.
About ten years ago chatsubo, I understood that the Forsyth/graveyard system had become too risky, due to spot checks by the passport office, (though it's a real b***er to find a record of death), as well as the risk that someone had applied for the same dead persons identity.

The latest trick at that time, seemed to be to use the original identity of someone who has been adopted & issued with a new birth certificate.

A few years ago, at St Catherines House I was looking at some of these indexes & asked what the pencil ticks were against some of them. The suggestion made to me,was that these were the ones already used for false identities. The word "adopted", will be marked in the margin of any full copy of a birth certificate, but not on a short certificate. BUT you only need a short certificate to get a passport!!!!!

Seeing the ticks by the entries, it was intresting to note, that even in this kind of fraud, a kind of etiquette seems to be involved!!!!!
I would conjecture that there is a huge set of possibilities, enough of which that no single one accounts for a large number of missing people. There are probably a number of 'perfect' murders committed (no body, no determinable motive). Some people certainly choose to disappear, whether for criminal or personal reasons. A good many people probably keep to themselves a decent bit and meet accidental demises in remote locations. I can concieve of 'inconvienent', though natural deaths where the body is disposed of. Some suicides probably end up as missing persons. Just to name a few.

I think a good statistical analysis would certainly be called for. How many disappear on foot (leaving behind their car/bike/whatever)? How many leave virtually everything behind? How many are known or suspected criminals? How long between last verified contact and reported missing? Were they last seen close to home? Were they travelling? What else?
The NMPH cites the following as the main reasons for the disappeared that are later accounted for:

Domestic dispute
General anxiety or stress
Depression or other mental illness
Amnesia, senility or Alzheimer's disease
Alcohol, drug or solvent misuse
Abduction (most feared but least likely) or
Just because they feel like it.

At first I would have thought it would be difficult in the US to just up sticks and vanish, then resurface as someone else given the need for ID, SS# .etc. however since there's quite a large scale of illegal immigration how hard can it be? I can well imagine given the vast expanses of wild country in the US that plenty of 'perfect' murders could be easily carried out. Even so, I just find the phenomena baffling because it's just so huge.
I can't give you an exact source (sorry, brain addled by flu), but I do remember reading an article saying around 300,000 people go missing in the US each year.
Sounds high, but in proportion with the US population, sound roughly the same as the UK.
I'll have a google for the article, and see what I can turn up.
It sounds about right chatsubo.

Between 1974 & 1984, only 18 police forces in England & Wales, (thats 55% of the population), provided figures for missing persons.

These, varied between 56,668 & 76,358 persons missing each year in these counties, which would suggest that in this time betwen 103,000 & 139,000 people went missing each year, in England & Wales!!!!

Maybe the most frightning figure, is the number of so called "long term missing". In 1964 it was sugested, (in Ellison, M., Missing From Home, Pan Books, 1964), that of the (then) 9,000 per year who go missing, 55% to 60% never turn up again!!!!
As for switching identities, this is the method I've been taught: Go to any courthouse/official records place that has lousy security, or invoke whatever 'social engineering' skills you possess. Go to birth/death records. Find some poor soul who was born around the same year as you, but who died as an infant. Grab the folder, take the birth cert, destroy the death cert. Apply for a social security card. Use social security card to get whatever identification you need... go from there. It's also pretty cheap/easy to get hold of a customized 'genuine' fake driver's license. Clever criminals may use this method much more than suspected?

Read a story somewhere about a guy who just switched lives one day because of a nervous breakdown. He was identified by a friend/relative by chance in a totally different part of the country. Evidently he had no idea he had even done it, and had managed to start a new life/family, as he wasn't identified for about 10 years. Is it possible that amnesiacs may just sort of transition back into society? And that there may be a higher number of these cases than suspected? The nature of this scenario would make it terribly difficult to identify or quantify.
Of course there could be quite a few Harold Shipman like serial killers. Obviously mad, but not self-destructive, and methodical and clever enough to dispose of hundreds of corpses every year.
Either that, or they've been drafted as slave labour for those underground bases in New Mexico.
IT needs to be fed...

_Obviously_, they're all being offered up to whatever it is that produces the "bad vibes" in the House of Commons (see the "meditating a no-no" thread on this board)..... Or Tony Blair hopes that the Dark Forces (tm) will revitalise the flagging economy, if he can only find enough people to fill that Wicker Man (come on, you didn't think all those burnt sheep actually had anything to do with foot & mouth, did you?!!?)...
Sorry, feeling a bit frivolous today. Apologies.
Of course Mike L. your suggestions apply to Amerika!!!!

I would like to belive that such things do not happen in Great Britain,, the central registration of births, marrages & deaths seems to prohibit the distruction of a death certificate.

BUT, they do not preclude bigamous marrages of convenience or duplicate identities, i.e. cloning.
David said:
I would like to belive that such things do not happen in Great Britain,, the central registration of births, marrages & deaths seems to prohibit the distruction of a death certificate.

Aye! I'm no expert, but it seems the US has problems with the fundamentals of ID records. There is no national standard/protocol for birth certificates, so pretty much anything goes.

Something else I've been wondering about is how *many* times individuals disappear. Some people may like to switch lives every few years or so, and could 'go missing' several times. Still doesn't explain all the poor kiddies (<20 or so) I see on milk cartons and junk mail.
Wasn't there a TV prog t'other week about people going on 'death holidays' to Cuba, for the purpose of staging their own purported demise, for insurance purposes? A video of the 'corpse' laid out in the coffin is thrown in.

And people do have the right in law to disappear, no matter how upsetting it is for their families. I've worked closely with the police in tracing teenage runaways and it's hard to force them to return even if they're as young as 15. Sometimes the best the police can do is tell the family that their kid is OK. Even when they're not. Many end up in prostitution and feel they can never go back, or are escaping undisclosed abuse at home. Tragic.
I remember the comment made about so many teenagers who left home was: "Not so much a runaway, more a throwaway"!!!

So sick but so true, I can remember a kid being made to sleep in a garden shed, as she was unable to find work. Mother chanting the mantra: "There's work out there if they want to look for it".

In the end daughter took off, God knows where!!!!!!

In other cases, the parent took in a new partner & the kid was in the way.
"Not so much a runaway, more a throwaway"!!!

David, how right you are. Rejecting one's own kids for a new partner is to me a hideous crime but it happens a lot.
(Even in my own family, I might add, my brother having dumped his 3 teenage daughters for his girlfriend.)

A workmate has the right idea. He says that as the kids are now aged 15 and over they'll soon be independent and all he needs to do is be tolerated! So he keeps his distance but offers unlimited lifts and helps out with discreet fivers and tenners now and then. The kids love him to bits.

The cases that fascinate me are the ones where people nip out to the corner shop, or some other mundane activity, and never return. Surely if it was on your mind to leave under your own steam, you'd maybe take a few things, a little money, any kind of organisation you could before vanishing. Simply disappearing mid-stride suggests foul-play, and if that's true, then there are a heck of a lot of unsolved crimes out there. No one would have known about Fred West if there wasn't a belated tip-off. I wonder how many more there can be.
Until recently, my girlfriend was in charge of Missing Persons for a decent-sized PD (now she's Records Administrator), and if a married woman disappeared, it was either murder or shacking up with a new boyfriend. There was a big deal about a missing housewife in the paper a couple years ago. What the paper didn't tell us was that she was a part-time stripper and ran away to live with her drug-dealer pimp boyfriend, leaving her kids and husband behind. Of course, mysterious disappearances of innocent housewives probably sell more papers.

Ten or eleven years ago, two girls went home after a graduation party, and they along with one girl's mother disappeared. Just poof! vanished. No bodies, no blood at the crime scene, nada. A few years later, an inmate in prison for rape confesses to his cellmate, who rats him out immediately. Unfortunately, he never repeats his confession, and it's still classified as Unsolved, although the cops are 99% sure they know who did it.

Actually, I'm not supposed to know this stuff, so it's just between us, okay? ;)
I think the ID question is a red herring here, at least in the UK. Part of my current job involves trying to collect money from former tenants who've done a runner. Even with a court order against them, and the use of tracing agencies, we have a very low success rate (unlesss their dumb enough to apply to us again for housing - which actually happens!).

Most people would think that, given that they're most likely signing on in the same area, that they'd be easy to catch, but because of the Data Protection Act, and other legislation, bodies like the DSS, Council Tax, Income Tax, etc, are not allowed to pass information to us. In many cases, they can't pass information between themselves, except in fraud cases. Equally, private sector organisations like banks respect client confidentiality.

I presume the police may have more powers, but given the number of cases, and the other demands on their time, they probably don't use them unless they have good reason to suspect foul play.

Basically, if you don't want to be found by your 'nearest & dearest', you wouldn't have any trouble. Just move to another town and settle in. Its only if the cops want you for something that you'd need to even think about changing your ID.

Though of course if you do need to, always remember that there are more NI numbers in circulation than there are citizens, so you're following a well trodden path!
That Many?

I'm hard-pressed to believe that many disappear in UK, it being such a small country. I mean, if true, it's staggering.

Someone alert David Icke, y'know? His reptoids are getting GREEDY.
Mind Snapped, or...

...possibly he'd been mugged. Any word when the glasses came up broken? He may have sustained a head injury.

Also, any connection to Lyme Regis? Old haunts, family, fond memories? It'd be lovely to see a follow-up, should there be any. Poor man.
Dark Detective said:

Thread and update posted here: The Doctor Vanishes
Very sad and bewildering.

I hadn't seen this thread before, yet another reason I wish TorgosPizza was still around. The case of the three Springfield, MO women who evaporated over ten years ago that he mentioned is still very strange from a why/how viewpoint, even if the cops think they know the who. Wish I knew if he had any more info.
The Organ Trade

I think a portion of the people may be attributed to organ theft.

I can imagine people with $$ who may be terminally ill and can find a shady doctor to fast-track them to a new heart or whatever organ is needed be motivated to find someone who's got the same blood type, kidnap them, and just steal whatever organ(s) are required.

I was reading somewhere that you can get illegal organ transplants (i.e. the doctor performing the procedure will not question where you got the organ). I heard that it is common for many people to suddenly go missing in South America and in the Middle East and organ trafficking is huge business. Really sick stuff.
Hammond Transplants

This should be snoped out, I suspect the organ theft angle is urban myth.
A problem with the organ transplant abduction theory is that abductors would need to know about the person's blood group, HIV status and general health before taking them- no point otherwise. These are only accessible through medical records.

Update on Dr Stevens-

Missing doctor spotted at airport

I think he's cracked under the pressure of his job.

Thing about 'mispers' is that most do reappear one way or another. For example, at a kids' home where I worked, there might be say 40 M.P. notifications to the police in a year. Some would be of the same kid running off home every few weeks- we'd have to notify police even when we knew full well where the kid was headed.

Some would be another kid running off to visit 'friends' (pimps, drug dealers) several times in a couple of months. Only very rarely did these teenagers not return within a short time, or rather demand a lift back from a hundred miles away!
All eventually showed up and were either brought back or placed in a more secure environment.

So while the bald figures for missing kids might have looked disturbing, the outcomes were usually reasonably positive and none of them actually 'disappeared', died or were abducted or murdered.
9,000 does seem a lot, doesn't it?

Makes you wonder what happened to them. All I can think of:

1. They deliberately start a new life elsewhere with a new ID
2. They show up with amnesia somewhere (but wouldn't authorities check missing person's registers?)
3. They die/are killed and the body isn't found.
4. They're homeless and anonymous
5. They're abducted and kept as a prisoner somewhere (it could, and indeed has, happened!)
6. Aliens, holes in reality, etc

I always wonder what happened to Richey Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers. He should be pretty loaded when he gets back, because the band still split all profits four ways and keep his share in a trust fund for if he ever returns.