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Rutabaga
02-26-2006, 03:28 AM
Hey all,

I'm writing a mystery involving a missing person. Need to know:

1) As TV has taught us (so it must be true), you can't file a missing persons report with the police until s/he's been gone for 48 hours. Any truth to this? What would police actually do if you tried to report a missing person?

2) If an unidentified dead body is found (John Doe), what happens to it? Held at County Coroner's office? In a hospital morgue? If your search for a missing person brings you down that path, where would you check?

Thanks all. Write on.

September skies
02-26-2006, 03:45 AM
Hey all,

I'm writing a mystery involving a missing person. Need to know:

1) As TV has taught us (so it must be true), you can't file a missing persons report with the police until s/he's been gone for 48 hours. Any truth to this? What would police actually do if you tried to report a missing person?


I watch Without A Trace every week -- and I never understand why but they start right away and tell you through the show "Six hours missing" or "Twelve hours missing" --

???? I don't get it. I always thought they had to be missing for 48 hours - that's how it is in my hometown.

Jamesaritchie
02-26-2006, 03:50 AM
I watch Without A Trace every week -- and I never understand why but they start right away and tell you through the show "Six hours missing" or "Twelve hours missing" --

???? I don't get it. I always thought they had to be missing for 48 hours - that's how it is in my hometown.



Well, I assume the countdown is from when people started looking.

Jamesaritchie
02-26-2006, 03:56 AM
Hey all,

I'm writing a mystery involving a missing person. Need to know:

1) As TV has taught us (so it must be true), you can't file a missing persons report with the police until s/he's been gone for 48 hours. Any truth to this? What would police actually do if you tried to report a missing person?

2) If an unidentified dead body is found (John Doe), what happens to it? Held at County Coroner's office? In a hospital morgue? If your search for a missing person brings you down that path, where would you check?

Thanks all. Write on.

It depends. The forty-eight hours is used when there is no reason at all to assume foul play has occured. If there is any evidence at all that foul play may have occured, the search begins immediately. It also begins immediately with children, alzheimer's sufferers, etc.

Where an unidentified body is kep depends on many things, such as they size of the town or city, the rules of a town or city, whether or not the victim was an obvious murder, whether they died in a hospital or were found on the street, whether or not the an autopsy will be performs, etc.

You really have to look at the specific locale where the story is set and check with the authorities there to get it right.

Rutabaga
02-26-2006, 06:55 AM
Thanks, everyone. My story is set in San Francisco. Anyone happen to know where dead John Does might get sent? Does that fall under county jurisdiction, or city, or state? Morgues, as far as I know, are in hospitals, no? Is there a separate facility where bodies go, with the drawers full o' cadavers?

Kathie Freeman
03-03-2006, 11:16 PM
In Calif mostly it depends on the age of the missing person.

If they are over 21 and of sound mind, the report won't be taken until they are missing 48 hours unless there is evidence of foul play. If they are under 12, the search is immediate and urgent. Between 12 and 21 it's a judgement call for the authorities.

For an unidentified body, most jurisdictions will keep it as long as they have room. I heard of one case in which a "John Doe" had been kept in a small-town morgue for over 30 years, and was something of a tourist attraction. Most hospital morgues are for temporary storage only. If a body isn't claimed immediately it usually goes to a county or city morgue. Also persons who are pronounced dead at the scene of an accident or at home of natural causes never go to a hospital, but are taken straight to the city or county morgue.

Rutabaga
03-03-2006, 11:40 PM
Thanks!