You swapped clothes, stayed up all night sharing secrets, and she's the only one who knew about your hunky high school crush... But now, your childhood best friend is nowhere to be found. Life sped forward, and she got left behind on Memory Lane. FOF Private Investigator Norma Tillman and FOF Online Investigation Specialist Darlene Adams share surefire secrets to tracking her down:
Your search should begin where the information about your friend ended.
"If you are looking for a friend you graduated with in Hunstville, Alabama, begin your search in Huntsville, Alabama," says Norma. "Most libraries have Suburban or City Directories--annual publications listing everyone who lives in a given town." If you compare year to year, you can figure out when someone moved away. If you can't get to that specific library..."often, a reference librarian can give you this information by phone or e-mail," says Norma.
Search Facebook...but not how you think!
"Social networks have made it easier to find people," says Darlene, but that doesn't mean you can plug in any name and find a match. If your searches have come up empty, Norma recommends trying this: "Let's say you knew the friend from camp but can't find her on Facebook. Find other friends from camp and search their friends. Search a few friends removed." Still no luck? "Send one a message to see if they have any idea about your friend's whereabouts."
It may sound morbid, but obituaries can bring new life to your search.
"An obituary from someone in your friend's family may provide you with clues to locate her," says Darlene. "Ancestry.com
has a good collection of obituaries, as well as birth, marriage and military records," says Norma.
Search free websites and online directories.
"There are a lot of websites that will give you some information, hoping you will pay for more," says Darlene. "You should never pay for these sites, most information can be pieced together for free." Darlene's favorite free sites for people searching: Peoplefinder.com
(previously Classmates.com), WhitePages.com
Contact school alumni associations.
"If you went to school with this friend or know where she went to school, alumni associations can be very helpful," says Norma. "See if you can get contact information for the alumni coordinator who may have more information about her."
Federal and State Public Records -
"There are all sorts of public records available at the city, state and federal levels," says Norma."But public records can be tough. Especially if you are looking for a record from a state where you are not a resident," warns Darlene, who recommends brbpub.com
, an online aggregator of public records. Norma recommends putting the pressure on federal agencies with FOIA (The Freedom of Information Act)
About the Experts
FOF Norma Tillman is a 72-year-old private investigator from Nashville, TN. She has found more than 1,000 missing persons in her career. She's also the author of Private Investigation 101, How To Find Almost Anyone, Anywhere, The Man With the Turquoise Eyes and other True Stories of a Private Eye's Search for Missing Persons, and The Adoption Searcher's Handbook. She has been called on to locate missing people by Oprah, Nancy Grace, producers at The View, CNN, NBC and hundreds of other national and local television hosts, shows and stations.
FOF Darlene Adams is a 53-year-old specialist in online investigations and founder of E-infoseek, a research company dedicated to supporting private investigators and the legal community. She is a co-author of Romantic Deception: The Six Signs He's Lying and a member of the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA), Infra-Gard, and Female Legal & Investigative Professionals (FLIP).