How to File a Missing Person Report
In the unlikely event that a child or loved one goes missing, please refer to the following information from the Ohio Attorney General's Office Website. Additionally, if you would like to receive Amber Alert notifications about when a child is missing in your area, please click on the following link and sign-up using the form.
Missing Persons Checklist
- Contact your local law enforcement agency to file a missing persons report
- Take steps to help investigators after a report is filed
- Raise awareness in your community regarding the missing person
- Take care of yourself
The following tips are intended to provide those seeking the return of a missing adult with direction on the action they can take to help.
Contact Your Local Law Enforcement Agency to File a Missing Persons Report
- At the time you file a report, law enforcement may ask you to supply the following information:
- Missing person’s full name, date of birth and social security number
- Details on where they were last seen or heard from
- Details on any vehicles involved
- Details on any persons who may be with them
- Details on what the person was wearing and any unique characteristics
- A current photograph
- Be sure to clearly state the reasons why you believe the individual’s absence is not voluntary.
- Record the name, phone number and badge number of the officer who takes the report so that you can follow-up with additional information. It is a good idea to keep a record of all the law enforcement personnel you speak with regarding the missing person.
- Request a copy of the missing persons report that is filed and obtain the agency case number.
- Confirm with law enforcement that the case information has been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. This allows all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to access information on the case. Ohio law requires that this information be posted to NCIC immediately for missing adults age 18 to 21. For those persons older than 21, the information must be posted in seven days should foul play be suspected. If foul play is not suspected, the law enforcement agency has up to 30 days to enter the information in NCIC.
- Should you not be related to the missing person, it could be necessary for you to alert a family member of the missing individual so they can file the report with law enforcement. Some law enforcement agencies have policies in place that require the missing persons report be filed by a family member.
Take Steps to Help Investigators After a Report is Filed
- Maintain a cooperative dialogue with investigators and law enforcement; share with them additional information you become aware of and ask them if there are ways you can assist.
- Ask law enforcement before disturbing items in the missing person’s residence. Make a video of the interior of the home to document how it appeared at the time the individual went missing.
- Talk with the missing person’s friends, co-workers, school, neighbors, relatives or others who may have information about the missing person. Ask them to let you know if they hear from the missing person.
- Retain personal items that were worn frequently, or that only the missing person would have used. These items should be placed in a paper bag and stored in a secure location.
- Talk with law enforcement about preservation of DNA through the Ohio Attorney General’s Project LINK (Linking Individuals Not Known). This program preserves DNA from family members of the missing person or intimate items owned by the missing person to help in the identification of unidentified human remains. Investigators should contact the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation for further details.
- Make a list of places the missing person often went to. Check to see if anyone at these locations has seen them.
- Provide law enforcement with information regarding the bank the missing person uses, who their dentist is and who is their home internet service provider.
- Retain the missing person’s cell phone and landline phone records.
- Get caller ID for your home phone and log all calls, even hang-ups.
- If the missing person is found let investigators know.
Raise Awareness in Your Community Regarding the Missing Person
- Before taking any action that would share details about the missing person with the entire community, talk with law enforcement to make sure no information is shared that could hurt their investigation.
- Create and distribute a missing person poster.
- Posters can be distributed at many locations including malls, public libraries, hospitals, and businesses. Ask a manager for permission prior to posting or distributing your materials. You can also take them to other law enforcement agencies in the area.
- Ask law enforcement what contact number should be printed on the poster.
- Contact local media and ask them to tell the missing person’s story.
- Contact the National Center for Missing Adults to have information regarding the missing person posted on the national registry they maintain. They can be contacted at (800) 690-FIND.
- Ask law enforcement to post information about the case on the Ohio Attorney General’s Ohio Missing Persons website. Ask law enforcement to make this request by calling (800) 282-0515.
Take Care of Yourself
- In this traumatic time do not cut yourself off from others who can support you such as family, friends and clergy. Talk to your doctor if increased stress is affecting your health.
- Be careful if you are contacted by those seeking money to help in locating the missing person. These can include private investigators and psychics. Report information on these individuals to law enforcement.
- Should you choose to retain the services of a private investigator, you can check to see if any complaints have been made against them by contacting your local Better Business Bureau as well as the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section. You can check the Attorney General’s consumer complaint records on-line at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov or call (800) 282-0515.
- Media coverage can be very beneficial in missing persons’ cases, but it can also lead to unexpected attention for you or other family members. You may choose to set guidelines on when and where interviews will occur. Not all interview requests must be accepted and not every question that is asked must be answered. A family may choose to select one individual who is best able to tell the story of the missing person to serve as their spokesperson.