Stuff I wish NamUs would do

I admit I was highly skeptical of the worth of NamUs at first (see my first blog entry about it, from over four years ago). But I quickly warmed up to it and it has become an incredibly valuable resource for my updates, not to mention for all the other people out there looking for missing persons. It is, to my knowledge, the only online missing persons database larger than my own (in terms of number of cases). Probably there are more cases on Charley that have NamUs as one of the sources than otherwise. And it has contributed to identifying many, many people who would have otherwise rested in potters’ fields, their families wondering about them, forever.

However, I am not a huge all-out fan of NamUs like some people are. I have actually gotten hate-mail before because I criticized NamUs. One person accused me of being out for my own glory and being no better than those so-called psychics who exploit the families of MPs and take money for their “predictions,” which left me a bit flabbergasted. I replied explaining I had changed my mind since I wrote the critical entry, and included several quotes from my blog where I praised NamUs; the emailer never answered. Another person suggested I dissolve the entire Charley Project and put it all onto NamUs and just just contribute to NamUs henceforth instead of running my own site. Uh, no.

NamUs is great but there’s room for improvement. I think their database is rather clunky and not as user-friendly as it could be. I don’t expect anyone there to listen to me, but it’s my blog, darn it, so I’m going to spout off and tell them what I wish they would change. This is related to the MP casefiles only, since I never look at the UID ones:

1. Put dates of birth back in public view. They used to be visible (albeit in a not-very-obvious place), but NamUs started hiding them years ago and I don’t know why. I see no reason why DOBs shouldn’t be publicly available; they are on most sites.
2. Make the content more uniform. Many cases are written in a very businesslike, impersonal sort of manner; others leave much to be desired in the way of spelling, grammar and tone. It’s sometimes difficult with stuff like tattoos as well — I find myself uncertain if the tattoo is of a thing or a word meaning that particular thing. Standardization would help a great deal.
3. When you notify subscibers of updates in the casefiles, refer to the MP by name as well as by case number. It humanizes the MP.
4. In your update emails, include also the cases that have been added, not just the ones that have been updated and the MPs that have been located.
5. Also, in said update emails, if a case is removed from public viewing for some reason but the person hasn’t actually been found, say that.
6. Include a separate listing for cases were partial remains have been located. It’s very annoying for me to be halfway through writing up a new case only to discover that the MP’s skull has been found and only the rest of the body is missing. In that case, forget about finding them alive and forget about listing them on Charley and most other missing persons sites.
7. Some information on NamUs is only available for viewing by people who can prove they are law enforcement. (Such as DOBs, apparently; see above.) Which is fine. But in that case LE should have their own updates subscription thingy. A lot of times I get an update notice saying “photo added” or whatever, and I go there only to discover that the photo isn’t visible to me cause I’m only a member of the public and not LE. (I’m assuming most of those photos are stuff like fingerprint cards or X-ray images and not actual snapshots of the MP.) Meanwhile, information that isn’t supposed to be available for public viewing, and isn’t visible when you look at a NamUs casefile (like medical conditions), is visible in NamUs update emails because they always say what they changed. Like Drugs of abuse changed from “” to “marijuana, methamphetamine.” I think that kind of defeats the purpose of not letting the general public know about certain sensitive information.
8. When notices go out that an MP is located, it would be helpful to say just when they were found, and if they were alive or dead. Like, the other day NamUs said a guy got found and I listed him as resolved. He was a severely disabled man who required constant supervision, and I think it more than likely that he was found deceased, but I couldn’t find any articles about him so I simply don’t know.
9. Instead of saying a person is 60 inches tall or whatever, say they’re five feet tall. Or at least give both forms of measurement. I know I’m not the only person who occasionally miscalculates trying to convert the height from inches to feet and change. Including metric measurements might also be helpful, but I’m an American so I don’t take much notice of that.

Another pet peeve of mine that isn’t really NamUs’s fault so much as the people who add cases: I guess they’re trying to make sure they don’t miss any possible UID matches, but so many cases include a range of three inches in height and a range of anywhere from 10 to as much as 30 pounds in weight, which frustrates me. I get my height and weight checked every time I got to the doctor. Last time, which was in mid-March (a sinus infection), I was exactly 128.2 pounds, and 5’6.8 inches tall in shoes. So guys, if I ever disappear, I am five feet six inches tall, not 5’5 – 5’7, and 130 pounds, not 125 – 130 pounds or 120 – 140 pounds. In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t even deal with weight ranges of less than ten pounds, and just settle on one or the other because I figure it makes no practical difference. But that’s just me.

Carry on.

*waits for the NamUs-defending haterz to start sending me hysterical emails again*


49 thoughts on “Stuff I wish NamUs would do

  1. Princess Shantae April 1, 2013 / 7:59 am

    I wouldn’t mind small weight or height ranges much. Weight goes up and down a bit all the time b/c of the water you drink and excrete, the time of day, your activity level.
    But sometimes I’ll see where it says something like “height five feet to five feet seven” and that’s just ridiculous. Somebody that’s five seven will never be mistaken for five feet and vice versa.
    Same with weight. A hundred pounds is not the same as a hundred fifty, and if a person yo yos back and forth they ought to at least say something like “Jenny Craig goes on binges sometimes and then crash diets and she’s weighed as much as this or as little as that.”

    • Meaghan April 1, 2013 / 8:08 am

      Yeah, I’ve seen a few cases on NamUs and other MP sites where it was noted that the MP’s weight tended to fluctuate drastically.

      Me, I weighed about 120 pounds, give or take a few, for like ten years. Then I started taking Depakote and *poof* gained ten pounds, just like that.

      For some reason, from the time I was about fourteen to the time I was twenty-six I still had the same clothing size even though I weighed as little as 105 pounds when I was younger or as much as 130 during the final 18 months of this period. (Right after Rollo attacked me I basically stopped eating and dropped 12 pounds in a month, which was 10% of my body weight at the time. Not good. My doctor my alarmed.) But late last year, for reason I can determine — I didn’t gain any more weight — I went up a clothing size. This was extremely annoying.

      Mom said it was because my body was maturing, but you’d think that by your mid-twenties that would have stopped. After a few months I gave up fighting with my too-small pants and put out the money to buy a whole bunch of new ones. I’m still really skinny and people tend to think I weigh less than I actually do.

      All the women in my family are thin, at least until they have kids, after which they explode like a self-inflated raft. But it’s all relative. My mom is under the impression that she is fat. She’s actually about normal size, especially for someone in her sixties. The problem, though, is that until she was 20 years old she weighed only 80 pounds, which is ludicrously tiny, and so her reference is all skewed.

    • Tiff Jepsen October 23, 2016 / 7:29 pm

      Not showing DOB helps keep people from stealing identities of missing people. Also, some people hardly EVER go to the doctors and not only that, if they do, they don’t around telling people their weight and height so we are left to guess. One of the things I wish they had though was a way to delete case we add BEFORE confirmed and officially added. Some missing persons are found before added so deleting the case ourselves would be more logical.

      • Meaghan October 23, 2016 / 10:06 pm

        If you’re involved with NamUs there’s something you guys ought to do, if you’re concerned about identity theft: go to the “documents” page on Carolann Payne’s NamUs file and pull the “Additional Carolann Payne Info” PDF right now. It’s full of all sorts of things that should not be public and it’s been dangling out there for about a year to my knowledge.

  2. Princess Shantae April 1, 2013 / 8:54 am

    It doesn’t help that clothing sizes aren’t even close to standardized. I remember in eighth grade I had a pair of red jeans that was just as tight as a sausage on me, and they were size ten. And they were too tight to get into after three months. But I’ve never worn a size ten jeans, ever, even when I was pregnant. That particular jeans company just made their pants tiny is all.
    People say Marilyn Monroe was a size 16, but she realy wasn’t. Maybe with some brands she would of been, but not normally. BUt she wasn’t as small as some say either. I remember reading an article in the paper a couple years ago when some of Marilyn’s gowns were on display, and the lady in charge or something was saying that she had to rip the seams in the dresses to get them to fit on a size two mannequin.
    Which is impossible. She had a little waist but not that little, and her hips and her chest and shoulders were not tiny. I say probably a ten, maybe an eight with certain styles or designers. But not a two. She didn’t have a size two waist and even if she did, you can’t get a size two dress onto a size eight body and still have people think you’re beautiful and elegant. You’d look like you had on your little sister’s outgrown clothes. She probably wore agirdle b/c most women did back then but even a girdle can’t fix everything.

    • Meaghan April 1, 2013 / 9:18 am

      I’ve been lucky enough that my body has always been able to fit different brands’ clothing sizes. I don’t have to try things on before I buy them. If the pants are a size 6 (or, before, a size 4), I know they will fit.

  3. whereaboutsstillunknown April 1, 2013 / 9:13 am

    I totally agree about the content being more uniform… have you noticed that in several cases, someone must have had a sticky O key or something, because they use 0’s (zero) in place of O’s in the circumstances section? Drives me nuts! It looks like something you’d find in a pre-teen chatroom and not a government database.

    • Meaghan April 1, 2013 / 9:19 am

      Yes, I’ve noticed that. That’s what I mean when I talk about poorly written stuff. Though in that case I think it may be a machine reading text off a PDF file and screwing up.

      • Peter Henderson Jr. April 2, 2013 / 11:04 am

        Guys you have to remember NamUs is the only website were family members can enter information about a missing loved one. That’s why the amount of content and the writing style varies from person to person.

        The height and weight information may be to the best of their recollection, decades after their loved one was last seen alive

        It would be helpful if the NamUs contact person for each case edited the profile to fit a standard missing person protocol but it seems like some profiles are just cut and pastes of information sent in.

  4. Silvia Pettem April 1, 2013 / 4:20 pm

    I have a few comments in defense of Namus. I was one of 5 people from Colorado who was trained at a National NamUs Academy, and I work in a police department and have law-enforcement access. I also teach classes on NamUs with the CO Bureau of Investigation. Some of the big advantages are the following:
    1. The public/family members can enter MP cases (which still have to be verified by L-E). This keeps the families engaged. L-E should encourage families to enter additional photos, descriptions or photos of jewelry their MP might have worn, etc.
    2. The public/family members can search UP cases. (Anyone not searching UP cases on a regular basis is missing a huge opportunity to find MPs! I know detectives who do this every day, and it’s something we all should do, too.)
    3. Automatic possible matches are at work even while we’re asleep. Yes, only L-E has access to the possible matches, but no other dual database has this capability.
    4. Once a case is entered into NamUs, agencies have the free help of odontologists, anthropologists, etc., as well as FREE DNA profiling. This was unheard of prior to 2009 when NamUs went “live.”

    The main problem, we have found, with NamUs, is that coroners/medical examiners are slower than L-E to enter their UP cases. I urge everyone who has contact with coroners/medical examiners to walk them through the process of entering their cases. Only they can enter UPs, and the more that are entered, the more MPs will be found.

    Meaghan’s pet peeve over height and weight ranges doesn’t make sense to me. Height and weight are misrepresented all the time on drivers’ licenses — I know mine are. Now that I’m older, I’m shorter (and heavier) than I was 9 YEARS ago when I got my last license. Also, a lot of the UPs are skeletal remains, so the height and weight of those individuals can only be estimated. Eye and hair color can also be incorrect, and typos (particularly #s) are common. I take all descriptive information (including height and weight) with a grain of salt. Without ranges, we would miss making some identifications.

    I do agree that the descriptive content is not uniform, but please realize that each case is written by the agency that entered it. As far as I know, no one edits the case information for grammar or sentence structure. The L-E people protect the integrity of their cases by giving only brief descriptions. NamUs was not designed for press releases or newspaper articles, although some agencies will attach articles as images. Instead, NamUs is an investigative tool that all of us can, and should, use.

    I would love to hear from anyone with comments on NamUs. Thanks for listening.

    • forthelost April 1, 2013 / 6:54 pm

      I’ve entered hundreds of Namus cases (not bragging, just stating a fact) and sometimes the information is later edited, usually with cases on NCMEC.

      I also wish I could see birthdates. And on my ID they took what I said about my height and weight at face value, as well as my eye color. I could have told them I was five feet tall, weighed ninety pounds, and had brown eyes. (I’m five foot seven, around a hundred ninety pounds, and my eyes are a very distinctive shade of blue.)

  5. Audrey April 1, 2013 / 6:00 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I love NamUs. But it has huge potential for improvement.

    One thing though, is I think the reason it’s not more uniform is because *anyone* can enter a NamUs case file. And, let’s face it, some people’s grammar isn’t quite up to par. You entering a NamUs case might look drastically different from how I might do it, which would look different from how a family member might do it, which would look different from how law enforcement would do it, etc.

    It also bugs me that they don’t (or aren’t able to) keep up with the cases that are closed or people that have been found. I’ve found quite a few cases on there that should be removed.

    • Meaghan April 2, 2013 / 4:33 pm

      I wrote it once about some woman who was found, and included articles about her being found. They said they would have to check with LE to confirm. That was months ago and the case is still on the site. I’m just imagining the “please confirm so-and-so was found” thing getting lost in transit, or lost on some LE person’s very over-full desk top.

  6. Carolyn Johnson - Clinton Nelson's Mom - Missing from Pinceton LA since 9/1/2006 April 1, 2013 / 7:00 pm

    As a mother of a missing son – I am glad that NAMUS is out there and I think it is a great resource to law enforcement, families, and web sleuths. I also personally know a number of people involved with NAMUS. I believe they are hero’s! They work hard every day to find answers and to help families of the missing! There is no other database that allows the missing and unidentified to come together in one location. As a mom – looking for her son – I have to tell NAMUS and all of the people who work so hard to maintain it and promote it….THANK YOU! Keep up the good work!

  7. Sharon Murch April 1, 2013 / 7:04 pm

    I am the mother of a missing child, now adult. We do not always know the exact height or weight of our missing loved ones. I only knew my Daughter’s height because I regularly marked it on the doorframe. I didn’t know her weight, just put “slender.” Once they have been missing for awhile, you really don’t know, especially if they were children at the time they went missing. And I don’t personally know anybody who knows what size they wear always, everywhere. If you pin it down to certainties that can’t be certain, you might miss something, and that could be a tragedy.

    Do you run the Charley Project? If so, I see that you put a lot of time and effort into the cases, update them frequently, and do make the stories interesting and engaging. Most information seems to be based on newspaper reports, though, and we know they are not always accurate! I do appreciate your efforts though.

    • Meaghan April 2, 2013 / 4:35 pm

      Yes, I run it. I appreciate your compliments. I agree about the occasional inaccuracies in news stories but if I didn’t have them to rely on, a lot of times I would have nothing at all.

  8. Maria April 1, 2013 / 7:51 pm

    I truly appreciate Namus, The Charlie Project,NAMPN . That said, yes…there is room for improvment. I work with a very small group of volunteers, and we do work hard searching, trying to match up doe’s to the missing. What I’ve been running into is this: We submit, a possible match, if and ‘when’ we do get a reply, nothing is more upsetting than to find out this possible match has already been submitted. So, I can understand the submitted one not being on the rule out list immediately especially if they are making comparisons and going to the panels with them, but..I would like to know (before I spend hours and hours making sure this is a good match) if it’s already been submitted. There should be a list for already submitted as well as the ruleouts. The search is a little difficult, and whatever you type in better be exact, it doesn’t work if you add a name with different spelling/ even one letter off won’t get it. The date function doesn’t like me either. Namus is a wonderful and much needed tool and I do wish more LE and ME would use it.

    • NH April 3, 2013 / 10:49 pm

      Agree completely. Another problem is that if you submit a potential match and hear nothing it is very frustrating. Ideally the LE should enter all of the rule outs and those under review. In order to keep the web sleuths engaged, that are a great resource, there need to be some response. I have had about a 50% response rate.

      Also fo me being able to down load the pubic info would be a great help.

      • Meaghan April 3, 2013 / 10:53 pm

        I assume you meant “public info.” 😉

  9. Patty Beeken April 2, 2013 / 6:30 am

    What the hell Meaghan? You speak about NamUs as if it is there for your entertainment and maybe you think so.

    NamUs is a tool…. Made available for both Law Enforcement and familiies of the missing. The data is supposed to be objective not stuff out of the news or some of the conjecture you put into your blog and post on your cases.

    This is the first time there has ever been a national site that has the capability for all LE to use and share. Not to mention the first time LE/CJS has allowed civilians to enter information about their missing. Many of us who are serious about the cause of the missing have prayed for this type of tool for years.

    Unfortunately you seem to forgot to mention some of the complaints you have recieved and bragged about on this blog from families who have asked you to remove your conjecture and remarks about their family members and even your refusal to remove their information.

    Here is just one example of complaints

    • Meaghan April 2, 2013 / 4:26 pm

      Except in cases where an abducting parent who, you know, broke the law, and took their kid against court orders and is demanding I not say so on their site, I have NEVER refused to remove information off of the Charley Project if the family asks. One woman who was in jail for kidnapping her kid and refusing to say where it was, contacted me through her lawyer and threatened to sue me if I didn’t stop saying on my site that she was in jail for kidnapping her kid and refusing to say where it was. And let me emphasize she admitted she was guilty of the offense she was charged with, and in fact proudly stated it everywhere, claiming to be a martyr “protecting” her kid from the father. So she didn’t want me to take the info off because it was innocent.

      That blog entry you linked to is riddled with inaccuracies and outright lies I’ve written a 20-some-page refutation for it. (Email me if you want to see it.) It’s not even really about the Charley Project all, it’s a personal attack on myself.

      Where are you getting the idea that I think NamUs is only available for entertainment? The things I put on my list would just make it easier for everyone to use, period.

      • Amy White April 3, 2013 / 3:44 am

        A while ago ,I stumbled upon that “complaint” linked above and it was immediately obvious IMHO that it was written by a sick,bitter, hate-consumed individual. Reading it left me feeling heartbroken for the ex-husband and children, God help them.

  10. Kristy Gault April 2, 2013 / 1:29 pm

    I think that Namus, Charley Project, Doenetwork and other sites all are doing a very good thing for the families of the lost, missing and unidentified. I totally get why large height and weight ranges are sometimes applicable, especially in the case of skeletal or partial remains. The only problem I ever had with Namus, and I don’t know why, is sometimes when I put in a date range for a missing or unidentified individual, their case doesn’t come up. I then have to go through a whole list to look for the case that I eventually find is on the Namus site. I don’t know why this happens. I love the rule-out lists on Namus. I love the updates on Namus. I think their site could be more complete as there are many missing and unidentified that are not listed. I don’t like the trend that seems to be happening whereby it seems cases are being pulled off these websites without explanation. Are the families requesting their cases be removed? I do not like this. These people do deserve their chance to be located and their cases solved. I have encountered families who did not want their loved ones listed because it was upsetting. This is so unfair to the victims and I hope this is not why I see cases being “archived” or removed with no explanation. I had a woman recently contact me about her missing aunt who is not listed anywhere that I know of. I put her on my wesite and posted photos and newspaper articles about her. About 6 months later this woman contacted me again and said that she wanted me to take down the thread about her aunt as it was upsetting to her mother. I asked if the woman had been found and she said no. I didn’t take it down.

    • Meaghan April 2, 2013 / 5:44 pm

      I go through my cases regularly and purge ones that aren’t listed with the source anymore. I figure 95% or more of these people have been found quietly with no news about it.

  11. CarlK90245 April 2, 2013 / 2:29 pm

    Just a few days ago, I sent the NamUs case managers a list of 17 MP’s who were located, but whose MP files were still open.

    A few of them were taken down, but most of them are still up. One example: Torchie Boyd, whose remains were located 2 1/2 years ago is still listed in NamUs as missing.

  12. Silvia Pettem April 2, 2013 / 4:14 pm

    Carl: What you are doing (notifying NamUs of MPs who were located) is very much appreciated. I’m not a NamUs administrator or case manager, so I don’t know the individual circumstances (maybe law enforcement failed to notify them, who knows?). It’s just good to know that you have the time and inclination to do this. Instead of others who see the negative side, we need more people like you. Thanks.

  13. Amy White April 3, 2013 / 3:35 am

    Yours is my favorite MP website because the way you write up the cases makes the people all seem more like real people as opposed to just a collection of statistics. I am totally guilty of using your website as “entertainment”(ha) because it’s such an enjoyable read. I have always known you to be objective and nonjudgmental with your write-ups. But I also am very appreciative of the Doe Network and NamUs. I think that those and the Charley Project are invaluable resources for those who are interested in MPs, and yours is hands-down the best for cross-referencing MPs(chronologically, geographically,alphabetically).
    Don’t worry what anybody thinks, there will always be trolls and malcontents out there
    As for the birthdate thing: I find that so, so annoying and frustrating when the DOB is hidden. According to one MP organization, they are pushing for DOBs not being published because of possible identity theft issues. Which IMHO is ridiculous because a really determined ID thief will find a way to steal an ID anyway. I can imagine many different scenarios where a DOB could be a big clue and a big help in finding someone, and think the benefit of publishing it outweighs the real or imaginary ID theft dangers.( And besides, the answer is obviously to severely punish the ID thief , not punish those who are sincerely trying to locate MPs)

    • Amy White April 3, 2013 / 1:25 pm

      note: there is obviously nothing entertaining or amusing about people going missing, however, there is a definition of “entertaining” that means”engaging or able to create interest” and that’s how I mean it.Missing people are not “entertaining” , they are part of a horrible unseen epidemic. Thanks-you for spreading the word about them and getting their names out there with case files that are engaging and create interest

      • Meaghan April 3, 2013 / 2:15 pm

        Quite so. Shows like America’s Most Wanted help solve crimes and are also entertaining. They have to be, or no one would watch them, which would mean they wouldn’t help solve crimes. If the TV show/website just had row after row of MPs’ or criminals’ pictures and LE contact numbers, nobody would watch that. Their eyes would glaze over and they’d fall asleep.

  14. Patty Beeken April 3, 2013 / 6:20 am

    Yes and the fact that she “Makes the people seem more like real people” Is because she inserts her own opinions, conjecture and drama into them. Imagine you are a family member and you read something that is totally untrue about your missing loved one? What would you do? How would it make you feel? Unless you have had someone you love missing you have NO IDEA how distressing some of this stuff can be to them. You find it entertaining they find it insulting, and demeaning when they see things that are totally made up by someone about someone who knows nothing about their missing. Someone who is then blogging about haters sending her email because of things she has on her website. Some of those “haters” have been family and friends of the “more real” cases you are reading.
    You can call me a hater all you want because I am……….. I hate it absolutely when the families of the missing are being taken advantage of.
    If you feel that the Federal Government is out of line by protecting sensitive information (DOB) then I don’t know what to tell you because if anyone is not going to put that information out there for everyone it is certainly going to be a Federal Law Enforcement Agency.

    • Amy White April 3, 2013 / 10:26 am

      How is she taking advantage of anyone by maintaining an awesome free website listing over 9000 MPs? A website that yes, makes MPs all the more “real” and “interesting” and gives them more exposure, which is a wonderful thing. What makes you think she makes things up? She has no motivation whatsoever to do that, and I know for an absolute fact that when there is a proven error brought to her attention she corrects it.That has been my experience at least. What makes you think that DOB is not readily available for almost anyone on well over a dozen people-locator-type sites? Oh yeah, and what makes you assume I have no Missing Loved One ?and if I do not, how can you assume I wouldn’t passionately seek the truth about someone I search for every single day ? Yes, I DO have an idea how distressing false information can be and I DO empathize, absolutely 100% .I think this website is a blessing to MPs and those of us who care about them, and it helps spread the word about many, many missing people that , sad to say, otherwise would be totally unknown to the public. Thanks, Meaghan. You totally rock.

  15. emma l April 4, 2013 / 4:08 am

    Thanks Amy, for saying everything I wanted to say.

  16. Lori Spier April 4, 2013 / 4:17 pm

    Pity Patty,

    Jennifer Collins and Holly Collins are frauds.

    Btw, many, many families deny (to themselves as well as to others) stuff their MPs might be involved in. Prostitution, drug abuse, suicide – mention any of these and the response you get could very well be “You’re lying! My (insert MP relation here) would *never* do such a thing!” Guess what? They do such things, even when spouses, parents, siblings, cousins, etc deny it. However adding in that info when a MP profile is created gives a better chance at locating a MP. For instance, an 18-year old college student goes missing. Sounds like a good clean kid. You’d look on and around campus, in the “good” parts of town, maybe check the airlines. Then you learn that the 18-year old college student was also a drug addict. Your search pattern changes; you wouldn’t expect to find a straight-edge kid in the “bad” area of town, but you *would* expect to find an addict there.

    Withholding and/or restricting information that can be given to the public (the very people who are, most logically, the ones who will find a MP) is ignorant. The information doesn’t make the MP a “bad” person; all it does is help to refine search parameters to make it more likely that the person will be found.

    Btw, it sounds like you belittle those who read MP sites when they don’t have a MP of their own. Not good. It’s those who read MP sites that frequently make the cross-references needed to help LE determine that a deceased person found in state X is really the MP from state Y. Check out the info on the Doe Network as to how volunteers (ie, people who read MP sites) have assisted LE in closing numerous MP cases and allowed families to know what happened to their relative.

    • Meaghan April 4, 2013 / 5:37 pm

      I agree with everything you said, Lori.

  17. Kristy Gault April 4, 2013 / 7:39 pm

    I think that noting that someone was a drug addict, criminal, etc.. is necessary in a listing, but let’s face it, it does make them look bad, and it is unfortunate that the family is caused pain by this. I guess the only thing I could say to a family in this situation is people make mistakes, and that does not make them bad people, it makes them human. I think every one of us has made mistakes. If anything, it makes me try a little bit harder for those lost ones because I feel like they might not get their fair shot from some people that really could help solve their cases.

    I have always found Charley Project to be very informative. I find information there that has been very well researched and details that were not known to me. I also like the extra photos and sometimes larger photo views, showing jewelry and clothing the victims were wearing in the photos.

    Like I said before, I find Namus very useful for the rule-out lists and I also find very original facts about the cases there that cannot be found anywhere.

    I guess what I’m getting at is we’re all on the same side, and I’m glad you are all doing what you are doing. Keep up the great work!!

  18. Patty Beeken April 4, 2013 / 8:02 pm

    Lori and Meaghan,

    Hmmm putting words in my mouth I see. Rock On! I never said anything about anyone reading missing person sites at all. I said some things about making up stories to add drama about the missing on CP. Which you both seem to think is okay.

    Why on earth do you think that NamUs (which you seem to forget is first of all a Law enforcment site) should give you sensitive information when we are lucky they let us participate at all?

    Doenetwork? I guess I WILL have to check that site out. Don’t you two even check who you are blabbering about before you open your mouths?

    Perhaps you should take a look at Doenetwork before you start trying to give me lessons about the families of the missing.

    • Lori Spier April 4, 2013 / 9:10 pm


      To quote ” You find it entertaining they find it insulting,…” So yeah, you’re kind of back-handed insulting anyone who reads MP websites if they don’t have a MP at all.

      Never will you find where I said it was ok to make up information. What I said was that all information, even that which is denied by the family, is needed to help locate a MP. You should (in theory) be aware that a person’s habits dictate where they run to first. Search and rescue is *based* on that. (In case you couldn’t follow, I consider SAR to be the first stage of locating a MP.)

      Never also will you be able to find where I said that Namus should give out sensitive information – because I didn’t say it. Much as you’d like to think it though, DOB *isn’t* “sensitive information”. It’s a public record. As are, in general, arrest records, court records and the like. Something also that, as GM of Doe, you should know. SSN, home address, driver’s license number – that is data that could be considered senstitive, and, to my knowledge, that info is not given out by LE.

      Perhaps you should stop and think for a second that, perhaps, some of us *do* know about the families of the missing. Just because we don’t talk about it constantly, doesn’t mean we haven’t been there. Or to put it in terms you might understand, in my family you don’t call to chat after 9pm because you might tie up the phone when *the* phone call is coming in.

      Btw, I didn’t look you up before because you sounded earlier (and still) like you stumbled on Jennifer Collins site where she trashes anyone who doesn’t agree with her and so came here to stir some shit. Sorry – she’s a fraud. Every court document that is public record says the opposite of what she says. In this case, I’m more inclned to belive the courts than a woman who was exposed to multiple years of mommy whispering in her ear about all the “bad stuff” that happened to her.

      Oh yes, and for you to insult me, I’d have to first value your opinion. Sorry dear, I don’t.

    • Peter Henderson Jr. April 5, 2013 / 5:26 am

      Excellent posts Lori and Kristy.

      Patty you said that Meaghan is, “making up stories to add drama about the missing on CP.”

      Now someone as knowledgeable about the missing as you feel you are should be able to provide some examples, right? Please show me the cases you are referring to.

      You know the ones were the sources listed and Meaghan’s report are worlds apart.

  19. Peter Henderson Jr. April 5, 2013 / 2:42 pm

    FYI; this is a very interesting series of posts.

    We have various people commenting on the pros and cons of NamUs, the original intent of this post. All useful insights

    Then we have Patty. Someone willing to buy hook-line-and-sinker into a well discredited diatribe by a manipulative, narcissistic person who to paraphrase Shakespeare, “protests to much.”

    Nothing is wrong with the fact this person is more then willing to trash a young sensitive researcher in a effort to deflect their proven criminal behavior, right Patty.

    Hay, how could that hurt?

    After all – all the investigators in that case could be wrong, right?

    Some people are sure the holocaust never happened, the Loc Ness Monster is a fact, Tiananmen Square is just a minor disruption to a proven benevolent history, and a former president, “never had sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.”

    The only thing needed to subvert the truth, is a willingness to be believe false prophets.

  20. Maureen Reintjes April 8, 2013 / 7:25 am

    Sure wish everyone would have taken their concerns to the good folks at NamUs as that would have been the professional thing to do. And, yes, they would have answered your questions and taken your suggestions under scrutiny. That is how they work.

    I find this whole thread pretty pointless. NamUs is not a site or an organization it is our Nation’s repository for the missing and unidentified persons. It is what the families of the missing prayed for and our government gave us. It is not a site, or an organization or a Facebook page or group. They are not in competition with anyone yet many think they are competition; I have to ask “competition against what?” A numbers competition…a who has the more cases listed attitude? So absurd. Yet, the very ones that scream the loudest also are the ones that harvest information off of the people they think they are in competition with and that includes other organizations, sites, Facebook pages/groups, and NamUs. Don’t you agree that is very, very sick behavior???

    Anyone, every single person from law enforcement, to media, to organizations, to sites, to groups, to trained advocates, to the concerned public should never work with the world of the missing unless they completely understand that the families of the missing and their missing loved ones are a package, you can’t separate them. And, everyone should understand that the only person who owns a missing person case are the missing persons’ families, no one else.

    For anyone who tries to claim a case as their own all I can say is they are not in it for the right reason. Are they wanting fame? Reward money? Scammers? ID thieves? Bored? Mentally ill? Got to be one of those because good, sensitive people that are knowledable in the world of the missing and understand all facets of it would never, ever try and claim a case as their own. And, not only would they not try and claim a case but before they put a case on their site they would seek permission from the law enforcement of jurisdiction or the family of the missing person. NamUs does validate that all their cases are actual missing person cases.

    NamUs brings to the families empowerment that is so very often ripped right out from under them the second they make report. Missing persons have been dropped out of NCIC, or never entered in, and family DNA samples thrown in drawers and never processed and the families didn’t find that out until years later when they could finally see information in NamUs to know what had been done and what hadn’t. Do you know how huge it is to the families to now have a spot where they can check to make sure critical DNA sample info, dentals and other medical information are in our nation’s repository (NamUs)?
    It was very huge recently for one family whose son had been dropped from the NCIC so therefore dropped off of NCMEC. If this missing young male had not been entered into NamUs, who does not purge a case until an answer has been found, had he been found or his remains found then law enforcement, medical examiners, and coroners would have had no idea who he was and that he was ever reported missing. If his family hadn’t been diligent checking NCMEC they would have never known and their son’s case would not have OFFICIALLY existed anywhere. Thank God for NamUs.

    I know first-hand what it is like to try and find a loved one. I know what it is like to have to jump from site to site to site endlessly searching. I know what it is like to go on body watch and to chase down and follow reports throughout the country of an unidentified person’s remains being found. It truly was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. And, now working with so many families, going on body watch, going on searches, being on retreat and at training conferences with I know that I was not the only one who had to do a search within a broken system. Most of us were all facing looking for a needle in a haystack. NamUs is dwindling the size of that haystack. Is that not the goal of everyone who works within the world of the missing, to dwindle the size of that haystack?

    All of us have to find a way to work together. This is not about numbers and who has the most cases listed on their site. The families of the missing would give up their lives to see that number at ZERO. NamUs publishes statistics because they are not a site, an organization, a Facebook page/group but because they are a government entity and are held accountable.

    Every family, everyone that works with the families of the missing, works in the world of the missing, agree that awareness plays a big part in finding answers. The more awareness sites the better as long as family has access to those sites and they or their law enforcement of jurisdiction has granted permission for their loved one to be listed. The families as well as law enforcement need to also be able to correct, add to, and delete information and it to be done in a timely manner with the best scenario being they can do this themselves.

    So as long as any site, organization, facebook page/group is being run ethically, in a spirit of non-competition and with complete sensitivity to what the families of the missing are going through then there should be no problems with everyone working together.

    Just a few more thoughts. Very few people, orgs, sites, advocates are publishing birth dates anymore because of identity theft. Yes, that information can be obtained many ways but how convenient is it to gather all that information from one spot? There are sites, orgs, so called advocates out there that are culling information of the missing just so they can sell that info to identity thieves. And, others are unknowingly providing that information by the amount of information they post.

    As far as height or weight being entered wrongly there are many reasons for that which includes, user error by whoever entered the case (public, law enforcement or the families themselves). Sometimes in the trauma and shock of having a loved one go missing family members often give out wrong information, not to be misleading but because of what trauma of this nature does to the brain. Most family members of the missing endure short-term memory loss as a result of the trauma. They aren’t lying or misleading it is simply at the moment they are asked the question that information cannot be recalled in the brain. In an effort to hold onto dignity they will give out wrong answers such as height and/or weight. They also many times are not concentrating on what at that moment to them seems like trivial questions….the dots have not connected yet; the reality has not set in. In other cases of inaccurate information being recorded if done so by a concerned citizen (advocate) they may have culled conflicting information from media reports and from information on various sites so not knowing what to put they put in whatever they want. When law enforcement validates the case they should be making corrections. With NCIC the families never know if data entered needs to be corrected as no one but law enforcement can see that data. With NamUs the data made public can now be seen by the families and so corrections can be made.

    The families of the missing certainly don’t want their cases made up into enthralling reads for researchers. So if anyone is out there making up information to make it more readable that needs to stop. All that does is confuse the public and the media and some law enforcement. The missing had/have personalities they don’t need a new one created for them and certainly not by complete strangers.

    In closing, I find it appalling to see middle school bullying, name calling on threads like this. Do you think this serves the world of the missing any good, does the families any good to see those childish antics going on? If you had a loved one missing would you want to see those behaviors? If you all take this silly notion of competition out of the mix and act mature maybe some real differences, real work be accomplished in the world of the missing. Strive for ZERO. This whole thing could have been avoided if questions or concerns had been directed professionally to NamUs.

    • whereaboutsstillunknown April 16, 2013 / 4:32 pm

      In response to this part of your comment:
      “The families of the missing certainly don’t want their cases made up into enthralling reads for researchers. So if anyone is out there making up information to make it more readable that needs to stop. All that does is confuse the public and the media and some law enforcement. The missing had/have personalities they don’t need a new one created for them and certainly not by complete strangers.”

      I beg to differ, except for the part about making up information. (Meaghan cites her sources for her information in every single casefile she adds, and I’ve never seen ‘Meaghan’s Imagination’ as a source). But to say they don’t want their cases ‘made up into enthralling reads’ is rather misleading.

      I just the other day watched a documentary about families of missing people (Kristen Modafferi’s family and Toni Clark’s family, among others) who were furious that their missing loved ones were ignored, to make way for Laci Peterson coverage. I’ve also read how Ganignunt Aiemsakul’s family was put on the back burner because the poor woman happened to disappear during the Chandra Levy scandal. They absolutely wanted the front page headline, the constant national news coverage, in fact, they tried incessantly to get the media’s attention. In order to get that type of coverage, there has to be an enthralling read – we all know that!

  21. NH April 18, 2013 / 7:58 am

    In the interest of figuring out how “lay people” can assist law enforcement I would add that it I would be extremely helpful if the LE kept the rule out files up to date so that we don’t “cover old ground”.

    Being able to download some info in bulk particularrly for the unidentified would facilitate electronic screening.

    As to heights, it is a mystery to me how say height can be determined when only a few bones have been found. A range with some level of confidence would be more useful for height and perhaps other fields. Say race. Maybe Caucasian or Hispanic but not Black or Asian. As any specifics will narrow the field.

    For research that will enable all of us to be more effective we need to know what happened. (See book Lost Person Behavior). We need to know the ultimate outcome. If the MP was found deceased – how far away were they from the last known location. What were the circumstances – woods, river, burried etc. And how were they located? Passer by, police tip, construction crew etc. Diff questions but same idea if the MP is found alive. This can all help facilitate searches and speed resolution, perhaps when the MP or at least most of the family is alive.

    • Meaghan April 18, 2013 / 8:09 am

      I think if the femur is available, trained scientists can make a guesstimate as to height.

      • Lori Spier April 18, 2013 / 8:36 am

        If the femur is available, a height within 2-3 inches is determined (the range is always listed as heights are *never* exact. Three different people measure you, you’ll get 3 different heights.) Occasionally the humerus (upper arm bone) can be used to help determine height. Race – that one is much more tricky. Only certain bones can serve as any kind of reliable indicator of race. Plus, there is so much “blending” of racial characteristics these days, that you can have a skull that has features of two or more races, further clouding the issue.

        Micro-mini forensic anthropology lecture ends 🙂

      • NH April 21, 2013 / 10:23 am

        What I am recommending is the the range be indicated as it will be wider or smaller depending upon what is found. But I also wonder about the range as my father had proportionally very long legs. He was 6′-4″ tall but his waist was extraordinarily high. Don’t know if that situation would have been covered.

    • Peter Henderson Jr. April 18, 2013 / 10:48 am

      Hi NH,

      All people of Hispanic ancestry who trace there roots back to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal) are Caucasian.

      Most people equate Caucasian with the classification “White” of Western European ancestry, but it really has nothing to do with skin tone, it refers to skeletal structure, in particular the skull.

      Skin color amongst Caucasoids ranges greatly from pale, reddish-white, olive, through to dark brown tones.

      So a person of full Hispanic ancestry is a Caucasian of Hispanic ancestry.

      In the United States, the term Caucasoid is commonly associated with notions of racial typology, and modern usage is generally associated with racial notions and therefore discouraged, as it is potentially offensive. The term “Caucasoid” is still used in certain disciplines such as anthropology, craniometry, epidemiology, forensic medicine and forensic archaeology.

      As has been pointed out some Hispanic’s who’s families have lived in the new world for some time have add-mixtures from either Negroid or Native American (Mongoloid) ancestry. Those add-mixtures, may or may not, be apparent in a persons photo.

  22. Jane Does May 22, 2013 / 1:22 pm

    Well the government of The Netherlands just accepted an award for their humanitarian efforts based on the fact that they granted Holly Collins and her children asylum.

    This is a link to their official website and I was there and met the man who accepted the award on behalf of the Netherlands government. There were tears from him as well as from Els Lucas (whom I also met) because they saved this mother and two chidlren from abuse.

    • Lori Spier May 22, 2013 / 2:38 pm

      Yeah, yeah… whatever. Considering just who hass been given humanitarian awards in the past, I wouldn’t put much stock in it.

    • lurker January 13, 2014 / 12:53 am

      If they really got asylum, they wouldn’t have been able to return to the US. The whole family is living there now. You can’t just waltz back into a country that you received asylum from.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s