Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains: The Nation’s Silent Mass Disaster
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January 1, 2007: According to the article, there are as many as 100,000 active missing persons cases in the United States. This sheer volume makes it different for law enforcement agencies to pursue those cases. Even discovered bodies might not be properly identified.

Also according to the article there are about 40,000 sets of unidentified human remains on file … some or all of them may be part of the 100,000 missing, others may not.



Game and Story Use

  • This is useful to know for adventures involving law enforcement in the United States.
  • Disappearing is a lot harder than people think - most of those who try to do it end up proving relatively easy to track down sooner or later, which means that either not a lot of effort is being put into finding these people, or there are some pretty good evaders out there or, more likely, most of them didn't vanish voluntarily.
    • That doesn't mean that a significant chunk of those missing persons aren't alive somewhere, whether living as an assumed identity (perhaps even as part of Witness Protection) or as someone's gimp.
  • Conversely, what about all these members of the Doe family pitching up everywhere? The fact that they can't be DNA matched to family members of missing persons is probably a matter of cost and logistics. Probably. Unless they were never reported missing and/or never officially existed.
    • Homunculi, Clones and people from alternate realities/different parts of the time stream may prove particularly "fun" to identify.
  • Either end of this is a good start for an adventure - either someone is missing and needs to be found, or a corpse turns up in circumstances where the police can't be relied upon and needs to be dealt with, or someone finds themselves with an unprovenanced corpse.
  • As is pointed out in The Dresden Files (and other places) the rate of disappearances in the US population is roughly equivalent to that rate of predation of herd animals by large carnivores. These figures are "somewhat disputed" but make a rather interesting point of departure…
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