Old v New – the London Private Investigator discusses Missing Person investigations

Missing Person Investigations

As Private Investigators, one of the most common requests we get, is to help locate a missing person. This can be for a variety of reasons – someone might want to find a birth parent, an old flame, an out of contact family member, an absentee landlord, or perhaps someone who owes them money. We have a good track record in tracing people, and use a variety of investigative methods to achieve a successful outcome. But sometimes we get requests from people seeking to locate a person who has been missing for a long time. These cases can be challenging, not least because of the complexity of the search. You are often having to go back decades, to times before the internet and social media. Trying to find evidence can be difficult.

Two cases involving missing people made the headlines this week. And both piqued our interest in terms of the investigative methods used.

The first, widely publicised case, was that of Kamiyah Mobely. This is the 18 year old girl who has spent her entire life living in South Carolina with her mother. What she did not know, was that she had been living a lie for 18 years. She was abducted at 8 hours old, from the hospital where she was born in Jacksonville Florida, by the woman she believed to be her mother, Gloria Williams.

Brought up as Alexis Mangio, the teenager this week learned the true facts about who she really was. At the time of her disappearance, police received hundreds of tip-offs, followed numerous leads and lines of enquiry, but to no avail. The case eventually went cold.

In cases such as this, once you have explored all the available evidence, gone through all the tip-offs, spoken to everyone and anyone with even the slightest hint of information, you are left with very few options. And when a case is 18 years old, your options are limited even further. But it is not impossible to solve such a case. Here, a private investigator can have the advantage over the police. The police, as everyone knows, are overstretched and are having to deal with many cases at once. An investigator will focus solely on the individual case. They have the time and the tenacity to revisit evidence, re-interview witnesses, cultivate relationships which might yield information. A good private investigator has the ability to approach things from a different angle.

Sometimes though, you need a lucky break. And in the case of Kamiyah Mobely, that is exactly what happened. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is the US received a tip-off in the last few weeks, which led to the reunion today of Kamiyah and her birth parents. Whilst we would hesitate to call this a happy ending, it is at least a resolution for the birth parents who have spent 18 years agonising over their daughter’s disappearance. And for Kamiyah, she now knows her true identity, though the psychological impact of the discovery cannot be underestimated

The other case which drew our attention this week was that of Corrie Mckeague. This is a much more recent Missing Person case. The 23 year old RAF serviceman went missing after a night out in Bury St Edmunds in September last year. And despite extensive investigations, no trace of him has been found.

It is the methods of investigation here which are worth noting. This is truly a 21st century investigation. Detectives (both the police and private investigators) have spent months trawling through over 1000 hours of CCTV footage,. Such is the sophistication of surveillance camera these days, that an extremely accurate map of Corrie’s whereabouts after he left the Flex nightclub has been plotted. From detailed analysis of his mobile phone records, we know that he moved 12 miles from Bury St Edmunds to an area known as Barton Mills in 28 minutes. This of course means he did not cover this distance on foot. Specialist tracing equipment used by the military has also been utilised to search for Corrie, but still nothing has been found.

Old fashioned missing person investigations methods have also been used in this case, ranging from interviewing potential witnesses to fingertip searches of the areas involved. It seems that no stone has been left unturned, yet Corrie’s whereabouts remain a mystery.

Unlike the investigation into Kamiyah Mobeley’s disappearance, investigators dealing with the case of Corrie McKeague have the advantage of technological advancements in their weaponry. But so far they have led to nothing. We hope it won’t be 18 years before Corrie is found. And perhaps the key to finding him lies not with the latest technology, but with that most valuable of investigative resources – the tip-off.

Contact us if you need help finding someone.