I posted this question on Charley’s Facebook page but decided it warranted further feedback and discussion on my blog as well. Feel free to discuss it in the comments, even if you don’t have any strong advice for me.
The other day I posted a case involving a young woman. It was a “few details are available” case, as I had absolutely no info about the circumstances surrounding her disappearance.
However, when doing my usual checking I discovered this MP had had a troubled life prior to her disappearance. I uncovered a series of arrests in two, maybe three different states, for offenses including hard drugs (possessing and selling both), prostitution, driving under the influence, and leaving the scene of an accident. One article said she’d been arrested for possession of heroin and asked to be released on her own recognizance since she was a single mother and had to start a new job, and the judge said that wasn’t allowed and she had to post bond because at the time of her arrest she had already been RORed for possession of cocaine. All of this happened over a period of years leading up to her disappearance.
Here’s the question: in a case like this — when all of these details are about her life before her disappearance, and I have no info about the disappearance itself and what the circumstances were, should I post the info anyway? I didn’t, because I didn’t want to cause pain for the MP’s family for what might be no good reason, and possibly mislead people, in case her disappearance was definitely not related to any of that.
I just wasn’t quite comfortable with saying basically “So-and-so was last seen on this date in this place. Few details are available in her case. By the way, she has an arrest record going back several years for drug- and prostitution-related offenses.”
At the same time though, if I’d found out some more innocuous stuff, like what high school/college she went to, or if she had any particular hobbies or belonged to a certain church or something — that is, details that might be equally unrelated to the investigation and didn’t make her look bad — I would have posted it without hesitation.
Why would I hesitate at summarizing the case like I did above, when I wouldn’t hesitate at saying instead, “By the way, she enjoyed doing this, that and the other thing, has six siblings and belonged to the Such-and-Such Catholic Church”? When her high-risk background is MUCH more likely to be related to her disappearance than her (for example) membership in a particular church would be.
What do you think?