People Searches: Helping with Your People Search

Elena Tentser asked:

I just saw a blog entry online, a kind of “missing persons” ad that puzzled me. A family in West Virginia is offering a $5000 reward for help provided in connection with their people search. Apparently, they are looking for a local mother and daughter who disappeared in 1999. The family patriarch and spokesperson expressed high hopes the reward will help unearth new information in connection with the missing relatives.

Here’s the gist of the story: on Dec. 1, 1999, a mother in her late sixties and her forty-something daughter left their local home and set out on a shopping spree, never to be seen again. Their car was located five days later in a neighboring county.

The desire to learn more about, and possibly reunite with, family members was sparked by genealogy research. The family had lost all contact with these relatives after the mother of the current head of the family passed away in 1989; the missing women were his mother’s sister and niece.

So now they’re willing to pay $5000 to find these relatives, yet it’s been 20 years since they’d had any contact with them, out of which they’ve been missing for 10. It’s from one extreme to the other. It doesn’t make much sense: why the sudden interest in the people who surely must have met with foul play and have long been dead? And if, by chance, the women are still living elsewhere, their relatives should really scale down their people search strategies and start with the much cheaper and a whole lot more effective. I’m talking about online people searches.

Where have these people been? Don’t they know that today, for a price of a latte, they can find people online by name and last known location, or even by an old phone number?

If the missing people ever existed, there are public records containing information about their last address, phone number and many other details that have been collected for years. One can look around for all kinds of hints about their lives via people searches, even criminal records, if any. And if the missing people are dead, searching for vital records online can lead to the discovery of death certificates. Case closed.

Now they can pay me the $5000 for pointing them in the right direction and telling them about people searches. If any information exists on these missing relatives, they are about to find it.

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