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Thinking outside the box

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

This is a true story, with minor changes to maintain integrity of a case. You may not believe this one, but it is 100% true.

A few years ago, I was called to duty to find a young female whom which we did not have much information. We knew her name and which college she went to, but preliminary research failed to disclose any further information. We also had a picture to identify the subject, but we had a very short time frame to make a miracle happen. After driving 4 States away, I had 3 days to locate a young female in a large city.

After hours of Social Media research, it was evident that the girl did not have any social media profiles, but I came across a picture that featured the subject with friends at her college. After analyzing the profile (which was luckily public), it could be presumed that this girl was a best friend and possible roommate of the subject. I continued to search through this new outlet (the friend). I came across a picture that this friend posted from inside if her apartment. In the background you can see out the window, a building with unique corbel and gabel structuring. Sometimes it is about the roads less traveled, right? So I took this building structure as a next step in finding this person.

I spent the next 6 hours searching Google Earth. I went street by street searching ”Street View” in all possible student housing sections of the city. After all the hours of searching I came across a very strong match. It was worth a try at least.


I drove to the location first thing in the morning, and I looked at the building and cross referenced the picture from the Instagram profile. I determined the direction of which the picture was taken and confirmed that I found the building in the background. I then determined the picture was taken from within an adjacent building. Now That I am seeing this 4 story apartment building, I can easily see the angle in which the photo was taken. I then anticipated the photo to have been taken from the 3rd floor. So, I went into the lobby of the building There were mailboxes with names on each box indicating floor and apartment number.

...And there it was!


The name I wanted to see was right there on the 3rd floor label. She was IN FACT the roommate of this girl that I happened to come across during an extensive and seemingly hopeless social media search. I was then able to conduct surveillance and got the evidence we needed.

As expected, I heard the phrase, “You got lucky”. Although luck played a part, I believe it was determination and unconventional strategy that played a bigger part in this case. I never aim to rely on luck, yet I hope for a little while a put in a lot of effort.

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