Voice Platform and Support Network for Families of Missing and Victims of Crime
I think that online sleuthers have and will continue to bring advancements regarding cases involving both missing and unidentified persons in a variety of ways.
As with anything else online, it is important, extremely important that families pay close attention and do their homework before they get involved with any online sluething sites or individuals. As much as we would like to think that criminals aren't lurking around the internet, we all know they are.
The families are suffering from a deep pain and the last thing they need is for someone to take advantage of them - whether it be emotionally or financially.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you cannont always believe what you read online. There are crazy people out there who post crazy things all across the internet. Who knows why they do it, but we all know they do. Not only are some of these things untrue but they can be very hurtful and can be damaging to the investigation surrounding the case.
All in all, I believe that online sleuthing has been helpful and I hope to see that trend continue.
Well most people know how I feel on this subject. But first I do want to say that there is a difference between a sleuther slash advocate and a crime board (hate board) gossiper.
Since you didn't define what you mean by sleuther I guess I need to address it all.
There are people online that are totally dedicated to finding the missing, giving back names to the unidentified and working with the families with much care and respect. I have been on the receiving end of their professional and caring sleuthing and research. They became good friends and I so treasure each of them.
Then there are the others, the flip side, the bad side of so called sleuthers who I have been a recipient of too, majorly. Those who use these cases as a way to fill boredom. Who don't understand what the families of the missing face, emotionally, financially and spiritually. They act all nice and sweet to the families just to get info out of them so they can run to their hate boards and out post their fellow posters. Many twist the words of the families or out and out lie about what the families have said just so they can get the attention of their fellow posters. Many times they interfere in the cases calling law enforcement, calling lawyers, calling media with their nonsense.
Then you have the other ones that have no care about the missing or the families as they are simply and purely either trying to get their hands on the reward money or trying to get the families to buy some service or package. They all act nice and sweet too just to hook the families.
So maybe the outcome of this discussion is a list of guidelines to help the families make a decision on who they should work with online.
I for one would like to see some sort of training / certification program for those who are sleuthers or advocates.
I think that sleuthers are very different from advocates..
Sleuthers try to match missing persons with unidentified persons. Advocates are more focused on helping the families and getting the word out. I think those are the persons you are referring to Mo.
We are contacted all the time by sleuthers or, as we more commonly refer to them as, "private citizen researchers". I still have my two cents for sleuthers, but because it will take a while, I will have to post later (Sorry). I do have to say, when I saw this post it got my attention! :-)
Many sleuthers call themselves advocates. I don't like the word sleuthers for those that are proven professional researchers.
The people that hurt me I call them websluts.
Doesn't matter what they call themselves or what anyone calls them no one should be around the families of the missing unless they understand just what the families are facing. The families don't exist for their entertainment.
As has been discussed in the comments--online sleuthing includes lots of different types of folks and activity.
As stated, unfortunately it can include hurtful and disrespectful comments, but I think citizens conducting online case research has enormous potential.
It certainly allows for people with a variety of knowledge to creatively offer information. I believe law enforcement has yet to harness the potential of the "online sleuth" and should be more open to this innovation to solve cases.
For instance, I have been surprised at how many comments and emails that I get regarding the few missing persons cases that I have highlighed--some of the information was provided to various investigators with the hope that it will help them and the families.