About 3 weeks ago I attended a graduation party for a friend. While there, I talked to the extended family and they happened to mentioned an adult female from their family who had been missing for 20+ years. Last seen getting into a boyfriends car in another state by her then teen child. I had worked for a forensics lab and thought I might be able to help restart their search.
With just a name and a hunch I went to the unsolved Jane Doe's website found in that state Doe network. Not a fun task and so many deceased records to go through. There are gruesome photos and ID of body parts of the DB's. Search with a friend if you are not used to it.
I was told at the party that a current SS was being mailed to a PO Box in another state. This meant she might still be alive, just in yet another state. And I decided to look for a living person instead - via mugshots. Mugshots are public even if not convicted of a crime. I found an older woman with a birthday and same name/description as the missing. This photo might be the missing person or not. It listed a city, county and sheriffs office. It was a place to start. Then I had to back track and find her family members and give them the info I found. I was basically a stranger calling out of the blue. It was hard to do that,if I was wrong, it would hurt them. But I wasn't. It was the missing woman, verified by the mugshot photo I sent to the living sister. I left the rest of the info up to them. They could track her down easily from there and on their own. The missing woman has a hard life and families are complicated and not all reunions end like the movies. But now the family has the knowledge their missing is alive. I am happy they have closure. It only took some time and searching on my part. But a big hole in their life has been filled. I am glad I took the time to listen and get involved.