View Full Version : Unidentified person shows up...who do they stay with until family is located?

12-28-2014, 05:58 AM
A twenty year old girl shows up out of the blue and claims she doesn't know much about her past. Her name doesn't match any missing person records. Assuming the police become involved, who would she stay with until kin is located?

Is there some way for a kind individual to come forward and open their home until the girl is identified?

Could a scenario like this happen without police involvement?

Long story short, I'm trying to get this unidentified 20 year old girl to stay with a specific character for a little while. What's the most reasonable way to do this?

T Robinson
12-28-2014, 07:21 AM
You say she does not know much. What does she know? How does she know she is 20? If there is reasonable doubt of age, Department of Family and Children's Services would be involved. They might be either way. Police would definitely be involved. What happens next depends on setting. Rural? Urban? Does she have identifying marks or tattoos? How did she get to wherever she is? If there is a suspicion of a crime, the scenario changes. I did not even ask which country. That is also a factor.

Does she have purse or possessions? Clothing expensive or K-mart special? All are potential clues to her background.

All these will determine what happens. Perhaps there is a Travelers Aid type service? Getting her to a specific person will be difficult, unless the person has helped "stranded" people before and is well known as such. HTH

12-28-2014, 08:54 AM
Have her approach a minister. (It might take a couple.) A church group can take care of her through their community contacts without involving the police. Happens frequently enough. I'm assuming she doesn't want to contact the police.

With the internet, it's relatively easy to search missing person files. It's just time consuming. But it's also possible for a church group to ask a police officer who is a member of the church to search the police files. Realize that not all missing persons end up in police records.

In a big city, homeless people frequently want to stay unidentified by the system. As a result, homeless shelters are also a possible source of help.

Without knowing more about what you're trying to do, I'm not sure how much more I can help you.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

12-28-2014, 09:32 AM
Does she actually not know much about herself, or is she only claiming not to know? If you're talking about a person with amnesia, they are probably going to be admitted to the hospital for medical treatment. If she's simply not giving up much information, I think she could be taken in by a good Samaritan without much fuss.

Layla Lawlor
12-28-2014, 11:08 AM
Since 20 years old is no longer a minor and assuming she's uninjured and mentally competent, I'd think the key factor would be what SHE wants to do. Is she the kind of person who would admit herself to the hospital? Or would she want to stay away from hospitals entirely? Would she take a stranger up on an offer of a place to stay while she looks for her family? What's the first thing she remembers, and how does that influence her assumptions about what happened to her, and what steps she takes in trying to figure out who she is?

"The Rook" by Daniel O'Malley features a protagonist with total amnesia who has reason to believe someone is trying to kill her, and therefore pretends to be perfectly normal while learning about her life and trying to figure out who's after her. For most people, admitting oneself to the hospital seems like a logical first step to make sure nothing is seriously wrong and get in touch with authorities who can help the amnesiac figure out who they are, but there might be situation-specific or character-specific reasons why she wouldn't want to do that.

It seems to me that a good first step would be asking yourself "what would I do if I woke up in [protagonist's situation] with no memory?" Or, more accurately, what would SHE do? Churches and homeless shelters seem like logical places for her to go if she doesn't want to get authorities involved (as mentioned above). If she is visibly acting disoriented and lost, someone on the street might help her, or another homeless person might take her under their wing and show her where to go.

12-28-2014, 11:48 AM
And, if your character doesn't remember her past, how does she know she wants her family to know where she is? Wouldn't the police take some precautions as well, just in case 'family' is why she's running, and, possibly, the cause of the amnesia.

12-28-2014, 11:54 AM
Good questions guys, lots to think about. She knows where she's been for the past 15 years, but it's urban fantasy and her explanation would have people laugh and say, "Come on now. Really, where were you?" So to cover it, she claims she doesn't know much of anything. She does have some identifying wounds, though. If a police officer picked her up s/he'd know what case to connect her to because of her marks, so that's something she'd try to avoid altogether.

I think I've got a rough draft idea based on your suggestions. I think having her go to a church might be the way to do it. There's a character she needs to meet right away and I can swing it through a ministry.