Missing persons cases, particularly adult MPs, are not often treated all that seriously by the police. It used to be a lot worse, though. For example, it used to be that teens were automatically classified as runaways and the cops didn’t even bother to search for them. See this example (courtesy of Peter Henderson) regarding the 1972 disappearance of Carlene Sessions Tengelsen from Macon, Georgia:
The Macon Police would not take a formal missing person’s report for 24 hours and when they did they said Carlene was not missing, she was just a teen runaway who would be home soon. But Carlene never came home.
Finally at the Tengelsens’ request the car was dusted for fingerprints but none were found.
The family quickly realized they would have to head up the search for their daughter themselves. For weeks teens from Carlene’s high school would fan out looking for her, at the end of the day they would come home in tears.
Carlene’s case was treated like most missing teen’s in the seventies, “toe-tag-cold from the get-go,” her sister Joanette said.
Two years later the Macon police wrote her mother a note asking if she had come home yet, they wanted to close her file. They said it was sill an “active investigation.” Her family laughed. If that was the case why did they not know she was still missing, they wondered.
[The above quote in italics is courtesy of Peter Henderson and used with permission.]
I’ve got several cases on the Charley Project where the MP’s investigation file just up and disappeared — thrown away, “borrowed” and never returned, accidentally or intentionally destroyed, or simply misplaced. And as the years pass and the original police officers move on or retire, the police department just might forget about the MP entirely. Somebody, usually a concerned relative, has to file a second report, and then the investigation has to start all over again and this time perhaps it’s been decades.
This doesn’t happen as often as it used to, because of computers and the internet and digitizing everything, but I’m sure it still happens on rare occasions.
Anyway, this list is of cases where all the records, or a significant part of the records, got lost.