Steps to Take if a Loved One Goes Missing


  • Check the areas normally occupied by the person and leave undisturbed
  • Contact family, friends, work, and places the person is known to visit
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to help you recall information
  • Keep accurate and detailed notes of your contacts


  • Delays can be critical. Contact the police immediately.
  • Request a missing person report be filed. (If under 18, authorities are required to investigate immediately. Police may be reluctant to take a report on an adult unless foul play is evident or the person is known to be endangered.)
  • If the officer refuses to take a report, ask to speak with a supervisor.
  • Be prepared to provide essential information, including recent photos.


  • Appoint a family member or friend to be the primary contact with media and law enforcement.
  • Talk regularly with the officer assigned to the case.
  • Make reasonable requests of the police.
  • When posting a reward, work with law enforcement to decide on the details.
  • Keep the public aware of your story. The police can provide guidance when contacting the news media.


  • Seek help from the organizations listed for additional information, guidance and support.

The Suzanne Lyall Campus Safety Act – 2008
This bill requires colleges to have policies outlining the role of each law enforcement agency -- campus, local and state -- in investigating a violent crime on campus. The legislation, an amendment to the larger Higher Education Opportunity Act, is called the Suzanne Lyall Campus Safety Act. It is designed to minimize delays and confusion during an initial investigation. A related law was enacted on the state level in 1999. New York's Campus Safety Act, also prompted by Lyall's disappearance, requires all colleges in the state "to have formal plans that provide for the investigation of missing students and violent felony offenses committed on campus." Suzanne's Law - Federal Law - 2003 Police agencies nationwide are required to enter information about every missing person under the age of 21 into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. NCIC is accessed by police agencies nationwide and enables investigations to begin immediately.

When a child (21 or under) has been abducted; and is believed to be in danger of serious bodily harm or death, the NYS AMBER Alert Program can be activated to provide the most rapid and widespread public dissemination of information. If a missing child or college student is deemed to be endangered, but the case does not meet AMBER Alert activation criteria, an alternative alert system known as the DCJS Missing College Student can be activated.