A missing person is a person who has disappeared and whose status as alive or deceased cannot be confirmed as his or her location and fate is not immediately known. Laws related to missing persons are often complex, since in many jurisdictions, relatives and third parties may not deal with a person’s assets until their death is considered proven by law and a formal issuance of a death certificate. The situation, uncertainties, and lack of closure or a funeral resulting when a person goes missing may be extremely painful and long-lasting for family and friends.

A person may be missing for several reasons which includes but not limited to his or her own decision to remain missing, he or she may have been involved in an accident, or the victim of a crime; moreover, death in a location where they cannot be found.

Reasons People go Missing:

People disappear for many reasons, some individuals choose to disappear alone and most return shortly after disappearing. Reasons for non-identification may include:

  • To escape domestic abuse, physical/emotional abuse of a child by a parent or guardian, siblings, or a spouse.
  • Leaving home to live elsewhere under an assumed identity.
  • Becoming the victim of a kidnapping.
  • Abduction (of a minor) by a non-custodial parent or other relative.
  • Seizure by government officials without due process of law.
  • Suicide in a remote location or under an assumed name (to spare their families the suicide at home or to allow their deaths to be eventually declared in absentia).
  • Victim of murder (body disguised, destroyed, or hidden).
  • Mental illness or other ailments such as Alzheimers can cause someone to become lost or they may not know how to identify themselves due to long-term memory loss that causes them to forget where they live or identity of family members or relatives, or even his or her own name.
  • Death by natural causes (disease) or accident far from home without identification.
  • Disappearance to take advantage of better employment or living conditions elsewhere.
  • Sold into slavery, serfdom, sexual servitude, or other unfair labor.
  • To avoid discovery of a crime or apprehension by law-enforcement authorities.
  • Joining a cult or other religious organization, leading to brainwashing.
  • To avoid war or persecution during a genocide.
  • To escape famine or natural disaster.