I also hate it when THIS happens

From time to time I hear from relatives of MPs wishing to correct some inaccuracy or another in the MP’s casefile. Now, for the most part, I take them at their word: that they are who they say they are and that they are being honest with me about the information. I’m a trusting sort of person and besides, I don’t have a lot of choice because it’s usually difficult or impossible to independently verify absolutely every detail. Furthermore, a lot of times the claimed inaccuracies are small things that don’t really matter much as far as the investigation is concerned, like what college the person went to, or whether or not their parents were married.

But sometimes, well, people lie. Sometimes people get upset that some (usually rather unflattering) bit of information about their missing relation is on the Charley Project, so they write to me saying it’s untrue in hopes that I’ll remove it.

I’m pretty sure that’s what happened today. A person wrote to me threatening a lawsuit about “false statements” about their aunt. Now, since that particular casefile is very short, I think I know what details the person is referring to: the part about the MP having an arrest record for drugs and prostitution. The problem is, I got that info straight from the horse’s mouth: that is, from the police. The information about the MP’s arrest record is mentioned when they talk about her on the missing persons section of the police department website.

Which leaves one of three explanations:
1. The upset relative genuinely didn’t know about the MP’s arrest record and doesn’t believe it. Possible, I suppose.
2. The information on the police website is inaccurate. Also possible, but not likely.
3. The upset relative is lying to me.

Anyway, this is unfortunate. I’m going to have to refuse to remove the information unless I hear from the police themselves correcting their own mistake. Which is going to make the relative even angrier at me than they already are. I really hate making family members upset, but I don’t see any other way to go in this case.

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2 thoughts on “I also hate it when THIS happens

  1. Peter Henderson February 11, 2013 / 8:44 am

    Meaghan,

    Your profile for this woman is not the only one listing those facts, the North American Missing Persons Network states the same thing.

    This woman’s family seems highly suspicious of the police or simply does not understand proper scientific investigative procedures. It was not till January 2011 that investigators were able to get her DNA profile as her family initially refused to provide it.

    Her family years ago initially refused to give samples, “I guess because they didn’t understand what it meant,” the lead investigator stated in published reports. The fact it took so long to get a DNA profile has put one of the best forensic anthropologist in the country a decade behind.

    The facts of this case are extremely important. The full report, including the location and circumstances under which this woman disappeared strongly suggest foul play.

    I am sure she was far more then the information available. She was a daughter, a sister, and maybe a mother. But solving her case requires all relevant information, including the not so flattering parts, be taken into account.

    • Meaghan February 11, 2013 / 9:10 am

      Quite so. I am not trying to bad-mouth anybody; in my eyes an MP is an MP and I don’t care who they are or what they did, all that matters is they’re missing. And if certain unpleasant facts about them may make it easier to find them, I feel I’ve got to make those facts known.

      Occasionally people ask me to remove information that they admit is true, but they don’t want it publicized. I kind of deal with that on a case-by-case basis. I don’t usually say no.

      In one case I was writing about a suspect and talked about crimes he’d committed, and named his accomplice in some of them. The accomplice wrote me to say he had turned his life around, got off drugs etc., was trying to lead a law-abiding life, and since he obviously had nothing to do with the woman’s disappearance other than knowing the suspect in her case, he really didn’t want his name associated with that. That seemed quite reasonable to me. I removed his name and made a mental note to keep this in mind when writing future cases. It was a mistake to include the man’s name in the first place; I just wasn’t thinking.

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