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Erin Latimer
06-21-2012, 08:48 PM
So here's my question:

In my story a girl has gone missing. Her last known whereabouts was at her boyfriend's house. Once her parents report it, would the police call him in for questioning? Or would they visit him at his house? (Maybe to look around the house?)

Right now I have two officers coming to the house to question him. There's no proof of anything, so they can't arrest him, right? If they do arrest him it sort of throws a stick in my spokes....

Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Williebee
06-21-2012, 09:03 PM
"What's next?" depends, in part, on "Where". Is this rural, city, somewhere in between. Oh, and what country?

It also depends upon the age of the girl and how long she has been "missing".

We can give you a more realistic answer with that information.

For example: Here in rural southern Illinois, a 15 year old girl goes missing from one of the small towns out in the county. It was yesterday afternoon when Mom last heard from her. Mom's already called the boyfriend and he says he doesn't know where she is, but she has her doubts.

Mom comes into the Sheriff's office and fills out the missing person's report. (No such thing as a "three day" wait here in small town middle America.)

The 911 dispatcher will issue a BOLO (Be On The Look Out) and a Missing person's report that includes a description, SSN, DL number, last seen, believed to be wearing, might be heading for...

Area cops aren't going to stop every girl matching that description just because they match that description. But, if they run a DL number that matches the girl, the BOLO/Missing Person's report will "pop" in the system.

If it is a slow day in the county, a county sheriff's deputy might wander over to the boyfriend's house to see if he's telling the truth/size him up. If it looks copacetic they might follow up by going to Dad's work and talking to him. (Mom and Dad are divorced.) If every thing checks out? That about covers it for awhile. They aren't going to drag anybody into the office for questioning without something much more significant to go on.

BTW? The above is from a real case, about 10 years ago.

MarkEsq
06-21-2012, 11:18 PM
So here's my question:

In my story a girl has gone missing. Her last known whereabouts was at her boyfriend's house. Once her parents report it, would the police call him in for questioning? Or would they visit him at his house? (Maybe to look around the house?)

Hard to say... if its in an urban areas and she has a history of running, they may do nothing other than have patrol keep an eye out. As Williebee says, if a small rural area they'd more likely stop by the house and chat with the guy.


Right now I have two officers coming to the house to question him. There's no proof of anything, so they can't arrest him, right? If they do arrest him it sort of throws a stick in my spokes....


You're safe. Without evidence of a crime, AND evidence he's the one who committed it, he would not be arrested.

Squirrel on a Ledge
06-22-2012, 12:13 AM
(No such thing as a "three day" wait here in small town middle America.)

I hear you!

I'm also from small town middle America. Where I'm from, the cops might even drive around areas she is known to frequent (assuming not a lot else was going on that day). They would also probably look into her cell phone records. Someone would probably chat with both the parents and the boyfriend, but unless there was some clear indication that he'd done something, there would be no cause to search his house.

ironmikezero
06-22-2012, 01:54 AM
Generally speaking (in the US), it'll vary somewhat by jurisdiction...

The "waiting period" is simply a protocol observed for adults - not juveniles - when there are no extenuating circumstances or evidence that may suggest foul play. It can be as little as a few hours/overnight, or as much as 48-72 hours. The missing person's present circumstances (home environment, significant relationships, etc.), medical condition, and personal history are significant considerations.

Missing children are another matter entirely and generate an immediate response of appropriate scale and scope.

Trebor1415
06-22-2012, 08:01 AM
Is she under 18 or over 18? That makes a difference in how the police respond.

Really, that aside, there's enough variation that you could write it so you are justified in the police doing a bunch of different things, and all of them would be "realistic."

You want an "all out response," make her under 18, and a possible stranger abduction. We're talking Amber alert, media coverage, the works. Even a non-custodial parental abduction is usually taken pretty seriously these days.

If you want to write it like the police "don't care," make her a troubled youth with previous police interactions and have her possibly have run away in the past. There'd still be a report, she'd be entered in the system, etc, but there wouldn't be that same sense of urgency.

As to the boyfriend, you could justify a bunch of different options there as well. Everything from finding out where he works and interviewing him there, to calling him to ask to come in and talk about it, to visiting his house unannounced and asking him about her.

The more apperant urgency in her disappearnce, the quicker and more "intrusive" (for lack of a better word) the response.

They shouldn't be able to arrest him without some probable cause he's involved and they shouldn't be able to do a non-consental search of his house without a warrant.

The thing is the police would very likely ask if they could "look around" to make sure she's not there and tell him things like "We just want to see if she's here. We don't care about anything else" (which may or may not be true) or "You can say, "No," but that looks suspicious", etc, etc.

Many people will consent to such a voluntary search, for varying reasons. Some want to honestly cooperate, some feel pressured, and some people just don't want to "look guilty."

Don't forget that police are allowed to lie to interview subjects and suspects in an investigation. (They can't say things like, "We have a warrant to search," when they really don't, but they can lie about what they are looking for and whether or not they really will ignore the pot on the kitchen table when they go through the house looking for her, etc).

EDIT: I missed the "last seen at boyfriends house" the first time. In that case, yeah, I think they'd show up there, unannounced, to ask him questions and ask for a consent search. Depending on how that goes, and what else they know, they may also try to get a search warrant for his house. (Which they may or may not get, depending on the circumstances)

But, if that's the last place she was seen, they'd definitaly want to talk to him, get his consent for a search, and see where that leads. If he declines to give consent to a search, or seems "evasive" that would trigger more interest in him. (Which could still be wrong. He may have nothing to do with it, but doesn't want cops to know he's growing MJ in the basement, etc. )

Having the police get suspicious of the boyfriend because he's being evasive for some other reason could be a plot complication. They could waste time following up on him, get a warrant, etc, only to find he has nothing to do with it, and they shoudl have been lookign elsewhere.

Erin Latimer
06-25-2012, 07:17 AM
Thanks everyone! Actually, the boyfriend has everything to do with it, lol. He's actually killed her and disposed of the body. BUT there's no evidence of a crime, and he and his room mate tell the police she "stormed out angry" and that she had been fighting with her parents. But the parents hate the boyfriend and tell the police they think he has something to do with it, so I have to try and make the police's reactions realistic.

And to answer everyone's questions, she was seventeen, and this is in the suburbs in Canada. I'm guessing it would be best to have police show up and question him and ask to search.

Trebor1415
06-25-2012, 11:41 PM
Thanks everyone! Actually, the boyfriend has everything to do with it, lol. He's actually killed her and disposed of the body. BUT there's no evidence of a crime, and he and his room mate tell the police she "stormed out angry" and that she had been fighting with her parents. But the parents hate the boyfriend and tell the police they think he has something to do with it, so I have to try and make the police's reactions realistic.

And to answer everyone's questions, she was seventeen, and this is in the suburbs in Canada. I'm guessing it would be best to have police show up and question him and ask to search.

Based on that, I think you may also want to do some work to create a reason for the police to NOT be too interested in the BF.

If he was the last to see her alive, that's where their interest will be drawn. Just him saying "She stormed out" isn't necessarily going to be enough to turn them away. Especially when the family points to the BF.

Basically, find a way to make the BF more credible then the family. Lot's of teens fight with their parents, but that doesn't make the parent's less credible when the teen disappears, unless there is some other reason to "downgrade" the parent's story and give more weight to the boyfriends story.

I'll say if the BF has any previous run in's with the law, or comes across as a stoner or generally as someone "on the fringe" they'll keep looking at him.

But, if he's a "good kid", respectable, etc, that would help. They'd still talk to him, and possibly suspect him, but he wouldn't ping on their RADAR as hard, especially if there is some reason to look at someone else. Like her family, ex-BF, etc.