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missesdash
08-01-2012, 03:26 PM
Hi there,

I'm writing an MS where at one point, a young girl (6 years old) from my MC's neighborhood goes missing.

The catch is that the girl's mother is away and her father denies she's missing at all. He says she's with her mother but when asked for information about where the girl's mother is, he says he isn't sure.

Basically he's trying to cover up the fact that he was so drunk, he passed out and he hasn't seen her for twenty four hours. He only knew she was missing when school called.

My question is about the police process. My Mc is going to try and file a missing person's report. Can she do that if she isn't a parent or family member? Will the cops immediately go investigate? Or would they call first? If they go by and visit, are they likely to insist they see the girl or talk to the girl's mother?

And if they can't get in touch with her mother? I basically want to know at what point they'd be able to take him in and ask questions.
I want to know how long this could potentially take if her parent insists she isn't missing.

Any suggestions (even the whole 'I saw this on Law and Order and here's what happened' is welcome)? Thanks!

stitchingirl
08-01-2012, 03:41 PM
This was a few years ago, as my daughter's now 20 and this was when she was in elementary school. But when school let out, my daughter's cousin grabbed her and wouldn't let the kids she walked home with have her. She wasn't six, but she was nine. She walked the three blocks with two neighbor girls.

I did call the police, who then went to the cousin's house to get her back. The cousin said she was taking my daughter to see her biological father. They went to the his sister's house to get my baby back. I didn't have to file a report. I just called 911 and they sent a uni (too much "Law & Order) out.

ArtsyAmy
08-01-2012, 08:45 PM
I don't have any special knowledge in this area--just guessing. I don't know who can and who cannot file a missing persons report, but seems to me that the neighbor wouldn't have to try to file one. Six years old is awfully young. If the neighbor just called the police, said she's concerned that the child has been missing for 24 hours, she doesn't think the child is with mom although dad claims she is, and mentions that dad drinks too much and doesn't properly supervise the child--basically that she's very concerned about a child so young--I imagine the police would go out to the house and start asking the dad questions. I'm guessing that would include asking that the child be produced or that dad provide mom's contact information so that it could be verified that the child is with her.

Amory
08-01-2012, 09:17 PM
What I know from volunteering at a women and child's rescue center:

I don't know that the neighbor can file an actual missing person's report--she has no proof the girl is NOT with the mother--but if she calls the police and tells them the father has been consuming a lot of alcohol, that the child has disappeared, and that the man does not seem to know where the mother he claims took the child is, they WILL send Child Protective Services or an officer to interview the father.

CPS will then make a decision as to whether they think the child has been kidnapped, abandoned, or runaway.

If there is proof of abduction (someone saw the girl getting in a strange car) then an Amber Alert will be issued, state and sometimes nationwide. If the father implies that the mother took the girl without permission and THAT is why he doesn't know where the mother is, an Amber Alert will also be issued, with the mother as the suspected kidnapper. (Yes, it is kidnapping to take your own child from the person who holds full custody without making arrangements.) If they think the girl has wandered off due to his poor abilities as a father, they will send the girl's pictures and statistics to all police personnel in the area and, possibly, issue an Amber Alert (cities would rather issue an Amber Alert too quickly than wait, find a dead kid, and get all that bad press. Trust me--I live in the city where Amber was killed.)

CPS is pretty good at reading people. If the man is BSing about where the kid is, they WILL realize it. "Uh, she's with her mom... No, I don't know where her mom is..." They'll say, "Okay, let's look at the records and find out where her place of living is." They will then contact the mother to see if the child is with her. If they cannot contact the mother, the child's picture and stats will be sent to police personnel in both areas, and it is possible that an Amber Alert will be issued. If they decide the father doesn't have a CLUE where his daughter is because he is too loaded, they might very well have the police arrest him on child endangerment charges. In any case, if they decide the missing child was not abducted but was simply poorly watched by the father, the child will likely be given to her mother's custody, the custody of a family member, or put into foster care until the father's issues are sorted out.

missesdash
08-01-2012, 11:19 PM
What I know from volunteering at a women and child's rescue center:

I don't know that the neighbor can file an actual missing person's report--she has no proof the girl is NOT with the mother--but if she calls the police and tells them the father has been consuming a lot of alcohol, that the child has disappeared, and that the man does not seem to know where the mother he claims took the child is, they WILL send Child Protective Services or an officer to interview the father.

CPS will then make a decision as to whether they think the child has been kidnapped, abandoned, or runaway.

If there is proof of abduction (someone saw the girl getting in a strange car) then an Amber Alert will be issued, state and sometimes nationwide. If the father implies that the mother took the girl without permission and THAT is why he doesn't know where the mother is, an Amber Alert will also be issued, with the mother as the suspected kidnapper. (Yes, it is kidnapping to take your own child from the person who holds full custody without making arrangements.) If they think the girl has wandered off due to his poor abilities as a father, they will send the girl's pictures and statistics to all police personnel in the area and, possibly, issue an Amber Alert (cities would rather issue an Amber Alert too quickly than wait, find a dead kid, and get all that bad press. Trust me--I live in the city where Amber was killed.)

CPS is pretty good at reading people. If the man is BSing about where the kid is, they WILL realize it. "Uh, she's with her mom... No, I don't know where her mom is..." They'll say, "Okay, let's look at the records and find out where her place of living is." They will then contact the mother to see if the child is with her. If they cannot contact the mother, the child's picture and stats will be sent to police personnel in both areas, and it is possible that an Amber Alert will be issued. If they decide the father doesn't have a CLUE where his daughter is because he is too loaded, they might very well have the police arrest him on child endangerment charges. In any case, if they decide the missing child was not abducted but was simply poorly watched by the father, the child will likely be given to her mother's custody, the custody of a family member, or put into foster care until the father's issues are sorted out.

Thanks so much! This is what I was looking for, exactly.

cornflake
08-02-2012, 01:36 AM
She likely can't generate a missing persons report. She could call CPS, as above, or call the cops and likely generate what's often called a well check or well being check.

Same as if you haven't seen the elderly customer at the post office you see every Friday or what have you. You can call the cops because you're concerned and if it makes sense (haven't seen a person that has a regular routine and lives alone or you heard a suspiciously bangy fight and screaming last night and then saw the husband drive off with a suitcase and haven't seen the wife who you normally see, whatever), they'll do a well check - come over, knock, get the door open if need be, investigate to insure someone's well being. Your story would qualify for that it seems to me.

I think you could go CPS too, depends on your character I think. A lot of people are afraid to call CPS because they think it'll lead to the kids being taken away and maybe they're overreacting, but would probably call the precinct and say 'uhm, I dunno but...' if you see what I mean. Cops can call CPS to accompany them or call if they find something that warrants it if they try a well check first. This all also depends on your setting. A small townish sheriff who knows people will have a different response than the Chicago cops, you know?

Witch_turtle
08-02-2012, 03:51 AM
I don't know much of anything about official/legal processes, but I can tell you this:

Yesterday afternoon in my town, somebody called the cops and said they saw a little girl (between the ages of 3 and 5) get taken off a playground. 2 hours later they had an entire division of town blocked off, something like 60 police units out, dogs, and helicopters searching for her. Intense.

A couple of hours after that, they retracted everything and said there hadn't even been an abduction after all.

I guess they don't necessarily need much to go on?

frimble3
08-02-2012, 12:28 PM
With a child that young, if someone calls and says they saw something, I imagine they take no chances.
Better to find out later that it was no big deal, than to give a kidnapper a longer getaway time.
And, sometimes the reason it was no big deal, and not an abduction after all, is because there was a big public search, Amber Alert, roads blocked off and helicopters.
An abductor sees the fuss, decides it's not worth the risk, drops the child off.
Or, a change in custody arrangements is made official.