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WriterInChains
09-15-2005, 12:13 AM
Hello,

In my WIP, my protag is searching for someone & I'm looking for different ways she could look; I have newspapers/microfilm & "bugging the local law enforcement" already, & she can't really afford a PI. Anyone have suggestions? Any ideas, no matter how far-fetched, would be appreciated. Well, alien abduction wouldn't work for this story, but I'm just brainstorming here. :Sun:

If the background helps/makes a difference: 18 y/o girl went missing ~1970, protag's "present" in the story is early 1990s.

Thanks a million!
Caren

scfirenice
09-15-2005, 12:44 AM
Facial recognition programs are great. Let's say you get you composite drawing of what your Missing kid would look like now, put it into a database, not AFIS but the one for missing people and whatnot, then the facial regognition program picks her up going to a ball game. You said your person was broke, maybe a google search or a zadasearch.com (those people are scary!)

TheIT
09-15-2005, 01:13 AM
Perhaps your protag could look up old school records or visit the girl's high school. The girl's teachers and classmates might remember something, though twenty years is a long time. Some of the teachers might not be alive anymore. Was the girl part of any clubs? Beginning college and entering a sorority, perhaps? Did the girl have a job?

Visiting her old home(s) might help, too. The neighbors might know something. Did the girl leave voluntarily, or was she kidnapped? If she intentionally made herself scarce she might have left clues (an old diary, perhaps).

TheIT
09-15-2005, 01:17 AM
Continuing with the school angle, perhaps this year is what would have been the girl's twenty year high school reunion. Maybe your protag could crash the party and learn something.

Munchkin
09-15-2005, 06:43 AM
The Protag. could try a show like Unsolved Mysteries.

pdr
09-15-2005, 08:17 AM
The Red Cross and the Salvation Army do a good job finding missing people. The Red Cross can often find people on the other side of the world.
Large church groups often help out too.
In certain cases Insurances companies can help.

WriterInChains
09-15-2005, 06:19 PM
Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions!
I guess I left out one important detail: the girl my protag is looking for didn't leave on her own, & she won't be found -- at least so far I don't think she will, but I'm only 1/3 finished drafting this novel & anything can happen!

scfirenice -- You're right, that site is creepy! Yikes! I didn't like how accurate it was when I searched for myself. I'm not sure she could've used something like that in 1990, though.

TheIT -- I like the school angle, hadn't thought too much about that! Thanks!

Munchkin -- Thanks! I hadn't thought of that either.

pdr -- Thanks! I don't think I'd ever have thought of the Red Cross or the SA since she didn't disappear during a disaster, but those are both good ideas.

JoniBGoode
09-23-2005, 08:39 PM
Caren-
Just a thought, but maybe your protag could find out the girl's social security number and run a credit check? (In the 70s, most schools kept track of students through their ss#).

Many people have access to credit check services through their work, like apartment managers, retail stores, etc. (Maybe protag could impose on a friend?) The credit check should return: place of employment (if any), bank and average balances (if any) and amount of taxable income on last tax return, as well as last known address.

The absence of any information on a credit check would indicate either the individual was dead, institutionalized (eg jail, mental hospital) or concealing their identity by using another social security number.

Joni

WriterInChains
09-24-2005, 08:22 PM
Hi Joni,

I like the ss# angle, thanks a million for your suggestion!

Have a great day!
Caren

rtilryarms
09-26-2005, 07:25 PM
SS# angle is good but your thread is titled "Missing Persons" which gave me the impression that it is a case of disapearance, kidnapping, runaway etc. where ss# would not be used. Intentional disapearance is also hard to track.

If the missing person is actually just an old aquaintance then all the above work fine.

If it is more devious, let me know and I'll give you a couple hints via pm.

WriterInChains
09-27-2005, 06:44 PM
Hi rtilryarms,

Thanks for your help!

Have a great day! :Sun:
Caren

Aconite
09-27-2005, 07:13 PM
Caren-
Just a thought, but maybe your protag could find out the girl's social security number and run a credit check? (In the 70s, most schools kept track of students through their ss#).
Would schools have given out this information on former students? Identity theft wasn't the issue in the 1990s that it is today, but I still have trouble seeing a school giving out personal identification--especially on a missing student who went missing--to anyone but police.

JoniBGoode
09-28-2005, 06:01 PM
Would schools have given out this information on former students?

Aconite- Be sneaky!!

They probably wouldn't tell you the ss# if you called and asked, but I imagine they would be cooperative about sharing other information and/or the file with a concerned friend or relative specifically because the person is missing. All it would take is 30 seconds alone with the file to see the ss#-- it's written all over it. You could probably see it across the room. Certainly across the desk!

I needed some info from my high school in 2000, and they STILL keep old student files under the ss#.

IMHO, in fiction it's not so much "what is the official policy" as "what could plausibly occur." If you need for it to happen, you can usually create the right circumstances.

Joni

WriterInChains
09-28-2005, 06:29 PM
Aconite -- Yours is a valid point, but I tend to lean more toward the view Joni took. If I can make it work, it stays in. In this case I'm not sure if that applies, because my protag's sister is the missing girl so she had access to all of her parents' paperwork & already would have the ss#.

Joni -- I didn't know schools still did that! Very interesting. Thanks again for the credit check idea! That one was golden! :)


Everyone have a great day!
~Caren

Aconite
09-28-2005, 08:21 PM
They probably wouldn't tell you the ss# if you called and asked, but I imagine they would be cooperative about sharing other information and/or the file with a concerned friend or relative specifically because the person is missing.
I can certainly see them cooperating with family, but family members could be expected to have the SSN already. I really can't see them cooperating with a "concerned friend," because anyone could pose as such, and schools tend to have rules about protecting students' privacy (to a pitiful extent, usually, but none of the secretaries I knew would ever have let a non-relative, non-police person near a student's records, particularly in a sensationalist case that the media could be interested in). I especially can't see them cooperating with a "friend" in a case where the child went missing--who knows if you'd be cooperating with a kidnapper or murderer?--and most especially not years after the event. I agree, anything you can make plausible is fair game in fiction. I just don't see that, as presented, as plausible.