According to the FBI's National Crime Information Center, 678,860 people were reported missing in 2011. The suspected cause of a disappearance was only recorded in about half of all cases. Of these, 3% were adults; 96% were juvenile runaways, about 1% were abducted by a non-custodial parent, and 0.1% abducted by a stranger. It should be noted that the police are required to alert the NCIC of any person under 21 who is missing, thus the NCIC stats should be a fairly accurate count of missing juveniles, but likely underestimate the number of adults who went missing, as those who were located within a short period of time were probably not reported to the NCIC.
The vast majority of missing person cases are cleared each year. In fact, in 2011 the NCIC actually cleared more cases than were opened; but this superficially happy fact should not detract from the sheer terror that a person goes through while a loved one is missing, nor the real danger that a runaway child is in.
At the end of 2011, the NCIC had 85,158 active missing person records. These represent the long term cases that have not been easily resolved with a person either returning home of their own accord or being located by police. Of these, 44% were children under the age of 18 and a further 11.5% were between 18 and 20 years of age.
The NCIC doesn't appear to provide a profile of adult active missing person cases, but according to a 2011 interview with Kym Pasqualini, president of the National Center for Missing Adults (which now appears to be part of http://www.lbth.org), the cases are split about equally between men and women; about 40% white, 30% black, 20% Latino. It is estimated that about one-sixth of all missing adults have psychiatric problems, while young men, people with drug or alcohol addictions and elderly citizens suffering from dementia make up other significant subgroups of missing adults.
This article was originally published in June 2012, and has been updated for the
April 2014 paperback release.
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