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What is a Missing Person


A “Missing Person” is one who, for whatever reason is not found to be in their usual abode and whose family or acquaintances are unaware of their whereabouts. “Missing Children “are those who for whatever reason are not in their usual abode and whose parents or caretakers are unaware of the whereabouts.

They include persons who:

  • are abducted by a stranger or acquaintance;
  • are abducted by a parent or relative due to custody disputes;
  • run away, become lost, or have been discarded by their lawful custodian or parent.

While the majority of children who become “missing” are eventually recovered or return home, they may be gone for significant periods of time. Some children are found dead, and some are never recovered at all. Coordination and cooperation between law enforcement, the missing children’s clearinghouse, and all involved agencies can shorten the time a child is away from his/her proper custodian or family, thereby lessening chances of exposure to dangerous situations.

Abductions by a stranger, while accounting for the least amount of missing persons, have the most “grim” outlook for recovery, especially if the child is not located within 48 hours. Immediate and intensive location efforts are necessary.

Children abducted by non-custodial parent live the life of victims of both emotional and sometimes physical abuse. Life is frequently “on the run” and they are uprooted from familiar schools, friends and often moved to other states, where their names may be changed to avoid detection. They are frequently traumatized not only emotionally but by physical abuse from a desperate absconding parent.

Runaways comprise the largest category of missing children. The manpower and resources needed to track them, as well as the perception that they will eventually return to their families by themselves, have made them a difficult enforcement problem. Unfortunately, while away, they are likely to be exposed to adverse and exploitive influences including drugs and prostitution. Often they enter criminal statistics through these activities or others.

Missing Adults:

Nationally, there are approximately 47,842 missing adults entered into the National Crime Information Center database. There are many more adults who may be missing, but not entered into any database. The Utah Missing Persons Clearinghouse focuses equally on missing adults as well as missing children.

Some reasons adults may be missing may include:

* Endangered due to foul play

* Diminished mental capacity

* Physical disability

* Suspicious circumstances


SB 35 Utah Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act

This bill sets guidelines for judges to determine when a child is at risk for abduction; requires a party to file a petition with the court specifying risk factors that might lead to an abduction; addresses specific issues for international abductions; and allows a court to issue a warrant to take immediate physical custody of a child it determines is at risk for abduction.

Missing Children Act

The Missing Children Act (1982) authorizes the Attorney General to collect and exchange information that would assist in the identification of unidentified deceased individuals and the location of missing persons, including missing children.

Missing Children’s Assistance Act

The Missing Children’s Assistance Act (1984) directs the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to establish and operate a national toll-free telephone line for missing children and a national resource center and clearinghouse.

National Child Search Assistance Act of 1990

The National Child Search Assistance Act of 1990 requires each federal, state, and local law-enforcement agency to enter information about missing children younger than the age of 18 into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. The Act also establishes state reporting requirements.

Suzanne’s Law

Section 3701(a) of the Crime Control Act of 1990 and Protect Act of 2003

(a) In General – Each Federal, State and local law enforcement agency shall report each case of a missing child under the age of 21 reported to such agency to the National Crime Information Center of the Department of Justice.
Adam Walsh Child Protection Safety Act of 2006

The Adam Walsh Act (2006) requires tougher laws on sex offender registration and notification. Section 3702 of the Crime Control Act of 1990 ( 42 U.S.C. 5780)(addition) ensures no law enforcement agency within a state establishes or maintains any policy that requires the removal of a missing person entry from its state law enforcement system or the National Crime Information Center computer database based solely on the age of the person and requires law enforcement enter the missing person under the age of 21 within 2 hours of being notified of that missing personĀ and minimal information is collected for the entry.