When a Digital Trail Leads to a Real-Life Missing Person

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Over all the years we’ve worked locating missing persons in Los Angeles, Kinsey Investigations has seen the full gamut of outcome for these cases. From the most light-hearted instances finding that someone is not actually missing after all to the most unfortunate and heartbreaking endings, missing persons cases always begin as high-stakes private investigations. This is partly because of how quickly a vulnerable missing person can become endangered and how easily they or someone taking advantage of them can obtain transportation out of the city. For these and other reasons, for any California private investigation involving a missing person, time is of the essence. Earlier this spring, we took on a missing person case involving a young woman from the east coast and a lead on finding her that we never saw coming.

Boring Tuesday to High-Stakes Missing Person Investigation

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As any Los Angeles County investigator can tell you, it’s impossible to predict what kind of clues and information might lead you to solve a case. At the end of last month, we cracked a missing persons case by following a digital trail of bank transactions. As we’ve said before, there’s no such thing as a typical day in the life of a California private investigator; however, on this particular Tuesday, our team wasn’t expecting anything very exciting. It looked like a day for billing, paperwork, and research – pretty boring in the grand scheme of Los Angeles detective work. Little did we know, we were about to get a huge lead on a missing person case!

A few days before, a family from the east coast had contacted our office about their missing adult daughter. Though no one in their family had ever visited Los Angeles before, the parents found out that their daughter bought a plane ticket to come here. They hadn’t even known she’d left the state until her employer contacted them about her not showing up for work. Knowing that she’d recently recovered from a traumatic brain injury, her parents feared she might be disoriented and suffering from a new complication having to do with the injury. We agreed to take on their case but had yet to receive any leads. The “boring Tuesday” we’d expected was about to get a lot more interesting.

The next thing we knew, we were getting a tip about the young woman being spotted at a bank in Santa Monica. She’d walked into the bank without identification, but by giving her social security number and confirming the password she used on her account, she was able to withdraw $100, the maximum amount allowed when someone cannot show identification. Since her parents were on the same account, they could confirm that the money had been withdrawn. They decided to fly to L.A. to hopefully be reunited soon. Now our team of female private investigators had something to go on to locate their missing daughter.

Hot on the Trail of our Missing Person in Los Angeles!

By the time the parents got into town, they confirmed their daughter had withdrawn another $100 from the same Santa Monica bank location. Soon after, she made another withdrawal from the bank’s Hollywood location, and this time, our surveillance team was ready. With her parents in tow, we followed her as she left the bank. Her father called her name, and she turned, but then ran in the opposite direction. The parents and our surveillance team followed her as she disappeared into a retail pharmacy.

To secure the location and ensure everyone’s safety, our L.A. detectives contacted the police and explained the situation to the pharmacy’s security staff. They agreed to let the young woman stay put in their  waiting area until the police arrived. They also let us know that she appeared to be injured, with one eye very red and her glasses missing. Upon arrival, the L.A.P.D. officers questioned they young woman separately from her parents. They reported that she seemed agitated and disoriented and wasn’t making a lot of sense while answering their questions. Ultimately, they decided to take her to the hospital on a 5150 hold (up to 72 hours of involuntary commitment) so that her physical and psychiatric condition could be evaluated. While her parents remained very worried, we knew the outcome was far from the worst-case scenario.

While our official involvement ended with locating our missing person, we were happy to hear the family flew home together a few days later, a very positive outcome on the spectrum of what can happen when someone goes missing in Los Angeles. Whatever road to recovery is ahead for this young woman and her family, we were relieved and happy to have reunited her with her parents who clearly loved and cared for her very much.