Missing Persons Project – What We Learned
While law enforcement agencies may be complying with the data input requirements of the law, the public availability of the information in a timely manner isn't happening as it should. Information should be as close to real time as possible. This is a reasonable expectation in the modern information age.
In addition, the information the state's list provides is limited and doesn't even include a photo! That is yet another practical assumption given the critical nature of the topic at hand.
What Our Research Revealed
Scouring the internet, we populated our own database with information about the county's then 183 missing persons. We were able to find photos for roughly 66% of the people listed. During the photo research we also learned a few other interesting things.
There are cases for missing persons that aren’t actually missing. One person was located using online records research and was found to be living in Florida! Another person was discovered to have been deceased since 2020. Several others have recently posted to their social media profiles. One person was actually in the Lane County Jail!
Then, there are a handful of missing person cases found online that aren’t even on the state's official list.
Many people on the list appear to be fugitives from the law. In other words – wanted people.
Some of the younger people on the list are runaways trying to escape their circumstances. They aren’t necessarily missing, but they won’t return home (some for good reason!) DHS will often list these children as missing because they won't contact their custodial parent. It's not because the child is literally lost or missing.
We've shared our findings with local law enforcement and continue to forge relationships to help ensure that our information is as current as possible.
Still, it is clear that the state's list isn't a good representation of who is actually missing in Oregon.