Missing Persons -- Missing Homicide Data?

M. Dwayne Smith, University of South Florida

Thousands of persons, both children and adults, are reported missing every year. The vast majority of these cases are solved by the return of the person within a relatively short period of time. However, a substantial number of cases remain unsolved. The assumed primary reason for children is clandestine residence with a non-custodial parent; for adults, a common assumption is voluntary relocation. Nevertheless, a number of these cases, especially among adults, are troubling because they defy logical explanations or, have characteristics that lead authorities to suspect foul play. Using several estimates of missing persons, and extrapolating from studies of selected data basis in Florida, this presentation considers the potential impact of "undiscovered" murder victims on homicide victimization statistics in the United States.

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Updated 05/20/2006