Alternative sources of pictures

Today I’d like to share a couple of places I can find photographs of MPs when none exist in any of the obvious spots (i.e. the NamUs database, CDOJ, NCMEC, etc). This is very important to me because I cannot post a case on the Charley Project unless there’s a picture to go with it.

Here’s a few extra sources you can use:

  • Ancestry.com, I am given to understand, sometimes has high school yearbooks available. Ancestry requires a subscription; I don’t have one, because Carl Koppelman does and he regularly sends me whatever yearbook photos he can find. Also, in a pinch, I can access Ancestry.com for free at the library. Yearbook photos tend to be good quality and, even if they’re out of date, can still be quite useful. I’m 31, for example, and still recognizably the same person I was when I was in high school.
  • Newspapers.com is a newspaper archive service. Unlike Newslibrary, which only provides the text of articles, Newspapers.com has entire scans of the newspaper pages, which includes pictures too — almost always in black and white, and sometimes not the greatest quality, but better than nothing. For my February 26 updates I hit the jackpot when I found a 1990 feature article in a Florida newspaper about local disappearances, that had photos of a dozen or so MPs — several of whom are still missing. Newspapers.com is also a subscription service, costing a somewhat steep $140 a year (and you can’t pay by the month, dangit). Fortunately mine was paid for by a sponsor. (You know who you are! Thanks so much!) I think it’s a much better bargain than Newslibrary, because Newslibrary charges by the article and you can view an unlimited number of articles with your Newspapers.com account. I use both services.
  • State prison databases. Florida’s is a great one. Most, maybe all states have an online database of inmates. Many of those databases contain photos of the inmates, released inmates are often included, particularly ones who are still on parole/probation. For my March 1 update, I had a Florida case off NamUs that had no photo, but I had a hunch and looked up the guy in the Florida state corrections database and he was there — he was released from prison several months before he disappeared, after doing three years on a drug charge. To make sure that it’s the right person, I make sure the info all lines up: stuff like date of birth, tattoos, etc. Similarly, if the MP is a registered sex offender, sex offender databases will provide photos — and information about where the MP has lived in the past.
  • Facebook. Almost everyone has a Facebook account nowadays, and many of them like plastering it with photos of themselves. And even if the person didn’t have a personal account because they disappeared too long ago or because they just don’t like Facebook, family and friends of MPs often set up Facebook accounts to publicize their disappearances. I get SO MANY photos from those.
  • YouTube. Many kind souls have made videos to publicize unsolved MP cases, or in memorial of the MPs, and if you’re willing to invest the time it takes to watch those videos, you may find pictures that aren’t present elsewhere. This video for Jeremiah George Huger is a great example of that: a whole bunch of pictures are present in the vid, obviously family snaps, and I have no idea where they came from. Jeremiah was an adorable kid.
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9 thoughts on “Alternative sources of pictures

  1. Sheri March 2, 2017 / 10:29 am

    Michigan’s prisoner database is excellent too. With pictures. It’s called OTIS.

  2. whereaboutsstillunknown March 2, 2017 / 1:06 pm

    I am just curious, when you find a photo or additional information on a family member or friend’s personal FB profile (that happens to be readable by the public and therefore comes up in search), do you use it? I always have a dilemma with that, I did find KayCee Lemire’s picture that way and used it, but that was because it was the only picture I could find. I often don’t, though, I worry that it’s invasive and don’t like the idea of using someone’s FB profile as a source. I’m just curious what your take on it is, cause I’m sure you’ve encountered that as well.

    • Meaghan March 2, 2017 / 1:19 pm

      I use pictures, yes, especially if I can’t get them from anywhere else. So far no one has complained.

    • Meaghan March 24, 2017 / 9:23 pm

      I actually harvested several pics off a guy’s personal Facebook page today because I could find them literally anywhere else. And I got one pic off a woman’s page; the only other one I could find was much older and came from a state prison database. She served five years for drugs and was released from prison several years before she disappeared. I took the picture from the database but decided not to note her criminal record on her casefile, since a number of years had passed and apparently she hadn’t been in trouble since then.

  3. Brenda March 2, 2017 / 2:09 pm

    Classmates.com also has yearbooks that you can look at without paying for a membership. Also, you can look up people on the Montana Department of Corrections.

  4. terromangerro March 3, 2017 / 2:31 am

    Meaghan, your comment about utilizing Ancestry has me thinking about a possible idea.

    In consideration of the tools Ancestry might have, perhaps you could make a request that they give You/Charley Project a full, free membership. You could use this to access things that supplement your entries or even give you the one photo you might need to get an entry on your site at all, then in exchange for the free membership, you could reference the Ancestry site somewhere on the relevant MP entries (like how you provide a link at the bottom of the entry as you do for other sources) and in other places on your site as you see relevant.

    I don’t know the extent of what Ancestry can do, but at the very least, Ancestry does have these yearbooks and other documents of value. And from what little I know, I think Ancestry not only has extensive records that may be of use for MP cases, but they also offer voluntary DNA tests where any of us can send in a sample (at a cost per Ancestry) and the person can discover all sorts of interesting things about his/her genetic background including finding actual familial matches (distant cousins, etc) and even allow an anonymous way to make contact with said newfound relatives. So a relative of an MP can purchase the kit to collect and analyze their DNA, and it’s possible the results might help locate an MP. There may be MP relatives that don’t know this is even possible, and those folks might only learn about it via a link on Charley.

    It would give you access to photos and maybe a lot of other info, and in exchange, Ancestry gains additional exposure and possibly new customers. I don’t know if this is something you’d want to pursue, and if so would Ancestry agree to it, but it was a mild brainstorm I had and figure it can’t hurt to propose it.

    Exploring such a relationship with Ancestry seems to be an idea worth pursuing, it will cost very little to Ancestry and they’ll gain new potential customers via your site. If you haven’t already looked into this, will you do so?

  5. audrey7703 March 8, 2017 / 7:20 pm

    The FLDOC used to allow you to use an age range as a parameter. Not anymore.

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