When missing people are ‘found’ and when they aren’t

It’s been a harrowing few months for Olivia Newton John after it was claimed that her missing ex partner Patrick McDermott had been discovered on a campsite in Mexico. McDermott, who went missing over 12 years ago, owed a substantial amount of child support payments when he disappeared on a fishing trip off the San Pedro coast. For a couple of months the story ran and ran, rehashing the disappearance of McDermott over the side of a fishing vessel although not one of the other 22 passengers saw him go overboard. Several high level pundits concluded that it was definitely McDermott who was shirtless in the grainy photographs and speculated about who the mystery woman was beside him and the paparazzi got into trying to doorstep Ms Newton John as she went on tour.

Then … Wes Stobbe, a Canadian publican, came forward to say that it was him in the long-distance photographs and that the woman he was ‘lounging beside’ was actually his wife Bridget. “Apparently if you make the photo fuzzy enough and grainy enough, it might be passable, but I don’t think I look like him,” Mr Stobbe told a Canadian radio station.

The point here is that a lot of unnecessary heartache and confusion has been created by an unconfirmed identification of a missing person. When National Person Finder undertakes a missing person case, our professional team ensure they have a lot more than a long-distance photograph on which to base an identification and certainly would never go public until they’d absolutely confirmed that they’d located a missing loved one.

The cost of finding a missing person

In a sad story, the only new development in the case of the missing RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague has been a Freedom of Information request into the cost of the investigation. So far, it’s an astonishing £2 million. Gunner McKeague went missing in September 2016 after a night out with friends in Bury St Edmunds. Since then police officers have spent 34,000 hours on the case. The bills are being paid out of the budget held by Norfolk and Suffolk’s joint Major Investigation team.

While the costs are stunningly high, it’s purely because the case has a security implication that the powers-that-be are willing to expend so much time and money. The parents of most young people who go missing in the UK would be lucky to get eight man-hours spent on the investigation because trying to find missing persons is often a low priority consideration for police services which know that a certain proportion of missing people will be working hard not to be found, while a small proportion will have been the victim of a crime.

This is where National Person Finder comes in – our cost-effective missing person services can provide peace of mind to the families and friends of a person who has disappeared and our rapid response to a missing person case means that we often resolve the problem long before it becomes an expensive cold case.