How long have you been an investigator?
I have owned and operated Lapointe Investigations since 2014. I spent several years with other agencies around Ontario before this. I have a background in Military Intelligence and am still an active military member.
What was the most difficult missing persons case you have ever encountered? How were they found? If they weren’t found, what stumped you?
No one has stumped me for too long, so far!
There are three kinds of missing people:
Planned: e.g. someone who gets their affairs in order prior to running.
Split second decision: e.g. a frustrated youth packs a bag and hitchhikes to meet a friend in another province.
- Type 1. An elderly person wanders out of their retirement home and can’t find their way back.
- Type 2. Family member loses ties with their family due to circumstance and no one has a means of finding or reaching them.
For split second and type 1 accidental, your chances of not being found if someone has taken the time to hire me are slim. You’ll have left an easy to follow trail. It usually comes down to faxing over pictures of the missing person to truck stops, airports ect. and interviewing family, friends and caretakers.
Type 2 accidental are easy, this person has probably bought a house or has some historical information in a database I have access to. Google is often my best friend in these cases!
Planned disappearances are the most difficult, and in my experience are usually someone hiding from the legal system in one way or another. It’s hard to remain underground forever, you’ll eventually have to buy a property, or get a job that isn’t paying you under the table ect. They’ll slip up, or may relax when not immediately found. They may not be found immediately, but they usually float to the surface sooner than later.
Had technology played a role in you locating a missing person? How?
Definitely. People aren’t shy to spread their information online. Social media, especially in dealing with missing persons less than 30 years old plays a huge role in my investigations. Someone doesn’t have to post a status saying I’m running away to Mexico either. Maybe they have a picture in front of a house, or in a shopping mall. These things help narrow down their location.
How have people tried to cover their technological foot print? How have they failed?
Deleting your Facebook profile may not be enough. Your friend may still have pictures or other info about you posted to their page. Google caches old versions of webpages, and I can see what your website looked like before all your info was removed from it.
Have you ever had someone fake or attempt to fake their death? If so, how did they get caught?
Not personally. Faking your death may pay off big if done correctly but almost always backfires. Do you want a team of police detectives researching a potential homicide? These guys know what someone faking their own death looks like and will likely quickly discover your motive for doing so. Hiding your motive for running away is often the most important factor in successfully staying hidden.
I know of a man who successfully faked his own death to get away from his low life family and social situation to start anew. His success came from not having a a large outstanding motive to run, and his plausible death story. He didn’t take out a large sum of money, had no debts, and did nothing to point towards an intention to run. This person was an avid fisherman, and was on the water almost weekly in his fishing boat. This person bought a new (old boat) that he told his family he was looking to repair. He chartered a course, and took the boat out on a choppy day to “test” its sea worthiness. He arrived at a sand bar where he had secretly hidden a raft and a week’s supply of food. The man then sent out a distress call, damaged the hull of his new fishing boat, and throttled the engine thereby sending it off to sea where it would soon take on too much water and sink. He enjoyed a warm beer on the sand bar, hopped on his raft and took off. He eventually made his way to Africa, where he currently resides. His family still believes he died at sea.
How have people created fake identities if you have come across any or know of ways?
People try to use fake identities to some degree of success. For the most part, a fake identity is a stolen identity which is quickly found out, with a limited time of use. Moreover, you can only get so far by telling people a different name and not having any form of credentials to back it up. This makes remaining in your country of origin tough!
I know you have an article on your website about missing people (the where and the why) but what is your experience with people going missing willfully?
People often willfully go missing because of some outlying consequence of remaining where they are. They usually go somewhere they perceive as safe, and far enough away from the threat of their discovery.
Is there anything surprising about people who willingly go missing?
They’re just like you or me. Running away is not an emotionally easy thing to do. It’s important to remember that these are desperate people who have hit a breaking point. Desperate people make mistakes.
How far have people gone to stay missing?
As mentioned, faking your death is the most extreme way to stay hidden. If you can actually pull it off, no one continues to look if they believe the person is dead and there is no body to be found.
Lastly, how would you suggest a person fake their own death or go missing without a trace?
Personally, and as a fighting aged man, I’d visit the French Foreign Legion in France and join. They provide you with a new identity. Even if you are discovered to have joined, there is nothing any foreign government can to to remove you once enlisted. As long as you are in good health and wits, and haven’t committed a grievous crime such as murder, you have a chance of being enlisted. This is one romantic way to start a new life, eh?