The Method Behind Finding A Missing Person

Posted at 9:44 PM, Feb 28, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-28 22:27:51-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. –  Before becoming a criminal justice professor at Grand Valley State University Dr. Brian Kingshott spent 32 years in law enforcement.

“I was trained as a detective by the London Metropolitan Police,” said Dr. Kingshott.

The professor said in his experience, the most complex and time consuming cases revolve around a missing person.

“It’s very, very complicated,” he said.  “That’s a lot of information you need to find out.   And a lot of times it can be distressing for the family.”

Dr. Kingshott said it often takes the cooperation of multiple law enforcement agencies to solve a single missing person’s case, so he can only imagine how investigators are dealing with three simultaneous investigations in West Michigan.

In Three Rivers, police say tips on missing 14-year-old Alejandra Rubi have been sporadic.

In Holland, police continue the search for Emelene Van Dyke, a missing mother of three last seen on Valentine’s Day.

And, after finding the car of Fred Byrne in Missouri, investigators in that state say they haven’t received any leads in days.

Just because trails hit dead ends, doesn’t mean the investigations have stopped.

“There is always the expectation that police are not doing enough, but there is a lot of work in the background that goes on all the time,” said Dr. Kingshott.

In most cases, the professor said, the start of the search will yield the most useful information.

“The most important, I think, is the interaction with the family and the information you can get from them,” he said.

At the same time, officers have to be sure they are following procedure and collecting evidence along the way in case the missing person turns into a criminal investigation.