The Missing Americans Project

Looking for People and Answers

When a U.S. citizen disappears in a foreign country, the family quickly finds that they're on their own. We've been there and want to help.

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Looking for Americans Lost in Foreign Countries

Families of Americans who disappear in foreign countries should not have to invent the wheel. Unfortunately, this is what too often happens: people in deep distress have to learn how to run an international search and rescue operation, raise funds, cultivate relationships with nongovernmental organizations, and work with the media -- all within hours of learning their loved one is missing. The absence of clear standard operating procedures within and among U.S. embassies and a lack of State Department support leads to an unconscionable waste of time when time is of the essence.

The Missing Americans Project is intended to:

* Build awareness of the problems of Americans missing in foreign countries;
* Increase the accountability and transparency of U.S. State Department processes where missing Americans are concerned.
* Lobby for legal and policy changes where necessary.
* Develop a global rapid-response network that is not subject to the same bureaucratic wrangling as the U.S. State Department is.
* Advocate for the interests of the families of missing Americans.

Blog Posts

Mexican Marines Executed 3 U.S. Citizens, Govt Agency Finds

Three U.S. siblings found dead in Mexico in 2014 were executed by Mexican marines and a border mayor's paramilitary security team, the country's National Human Rights Commission said Thursday.

Erica Alvarado Salinas, 26, Alex Alvarado, 22, and Jose Angel Alvarado, 21, all U.S. citizens, disappeared in 2014 while visiting their father in El Control, a small town near Matamoros, a Mexican city in the dangerous state of Tamaulipas, across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

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Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on January 21, 2018 at 8:45pm

U.S. State Department Issues Travel Warning for Belize

The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for Belize on Wednesday, January 10, warning American citizens to exercise caution when in the country. The advisory states that violent crime, such as sexual assault, armed robbery, and murder are common in Belize and local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.

Read full article

Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on January 19, 2018 at 4:51pm

Maligning the Missing, Murdered, Injured, Victimized, and Their Families

It never fails.

The moment an American or other foreigner comes to harm in an exotic locale, the first response of "community activists" is to undermine his/her story, to declare them unfit for public sympathy and their families unworthy of compassion and voluntary support.

My brother was alternately declared a CIA agent and a narco trafficker because, 72 hours too late to be helpful, we were able to get U.S. aircraft launched to assist in the search for him off the island of Roatan, where he'd gone adrift in a tiny pleasure craft. Part of the mission of the base where those Blackhawk helicopters reside is to participate in search and rescue. But nobody knew. We had to discover the base's existence on our own and then fight to get the Blackhawks into play. Now people know, and when someone goes adrift off Roatan or Utila, the Blackhawks are quickly brought in. Thanks to the knowledge and publicity generated by our loss, at least nine people who I know of are alive…

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Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on January 18, 2018 at 2:00pm

Costa Rica Murder Rate Hits Record High in 2017

Costa Rica recorded its highest-ever annual murder rate in 2017, authorities said this week, blaming score-settling between gangs and drug trafficking for the rise. 

The nation of about five million people, still considered one of the safest relative to others in Central America, saw 603 homicides last year, according to preliminary data from the police service responsible for investigating them. That works out to a rate of 12.1 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

The number of killings “is the highest in the history of the country,” the deputy director of the Judicial Investigation Organism, Michael Soto, said at a news conference.

Read full article

Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on January 16, 2018 at 11:27am

Terrifying ordeal; Happy Ending!!

In May of 2014 my step-daughter left the US to go to Mexico to be with an abusive boyfriend.  I didn't realize she was gone (I was recovering from bilateral hip replacement) until August when I couldn't contact her for weeks and weeks.  I stopped by her place and ultimately called the police to do a "wellness check" on her.  This is when I learned that she had left with her two daughters ages 2 1/2 and 5.

I found this site and Jeff Dunsavage was good enough to call me personally and talk to me and give me suggestions on where to look for help.  His suggestions led me to find the girls!!  My journey was long, difficult and well worth every step I took.  I never gave up and when things got tough, I tried just that much harder.  The two year old was burned intentionally with scalding water by the boyfriend and it nearly killed her; we ended up getting Shriner's Hospital involved and they airlifted her and her mother to the US.  She would have died for certain if she…

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Posted by Susan Evans on January 11, 2018 at 12:00pm — 1 Comment

Wisconsin Man Recovering From Beating, Torture in Costa Rica

Ryan Messerschmidt, from Wisconsin, was tortured, stabbed and beaten -- attacked while on vacation in Costa Rica. He'd been missing for days, but his family has received word that he's alive. However, they said they're not convinced he's safe.

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Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on January 11, 2018 at 9:00am

Ryan Messerschmidt, Missing in Costa Rica, Found Alive

Thank you to all who provided assistance, ideas, and resources for Ryan's family!

Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on January 10, 2018 at 4:37pm

Missing in Costa Rica please help

https://www.facebook.com/jamie.meile/posts/10159735862035487

please follow the link above. My friends brother was traveling alone in Costa Rica. He is now missing. She was sent a picture of him bloody and beaten and what she hopes is unconscious. However, all leads as to where he is have been dead ends. Trying to get the word out. Update: he has been found and was able to speak to his family. He was badly beaten, tortured and stabbed but ALIVE! Next step is they fly to Costa Rica to bring Him home. Prayers to them for safe travels and no issues while there. 

Posted by Jaylene Stevenson on January 9, 2018 at 8:23pm

California City Official Gunned Down While Vacationing in Mexico

An American tourist was shot and killed while apparently being robbed in a resort town on Mexico’s Pacific Coast that has become popular with surfers and Hollywood stars.

Douglas Bradley was killed Thursday in the hotel zone of Ixtapa. He was on Christmas vacation in neighboring Zihuatanejo and would have turned 50 the next day. The city of Imperial Beach in San Diego County announced Bradley’s death on Friday. He was the city’s director of finance.

Read more.

Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on December 31, 2017 at 4:59pm

Mom of Montrealer Missing in Peru for 2 Months Is Not Giving Up

Alisa Clamen is back in Montreal, after spending the last two months abroad, and she's ramping up search and rescue efforts to find her missing son, Jesse Galganov.

She's been on the ground in Peru, working with local officials and search teams there. She also enlisted the help of an Israeli company the specializes in search and rescue.

Galganov, 22, left Montreal late September for an eight-month backpacking trip through South America and Asia.The last time Clamen heard from him was on Sept. 28, just before he embarked on what was supposed to be a four-day trek in the Cordillera Blanca mountains.…

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Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on December 1, 2017 at 12:55pm

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    Latest Activity

    Joanne Dungca updated their profile
    14 hours ago
    Jeff Dunsavage posted a blog post

    Mexican Marines Executed 3 U.S. Citizens, Govt Agency Finds

    Three U.S. siblings found dead in Mexico in 2014 were executed by Mexican marines and a border mayor's paramilitary security team, the country's National Human Rights Commission said Thursday.Erica Alvarado Salinas, 26, Alex Alvarado, 22, and Jose…See More
    17 hours ago
    Stephanie is now a member of The Missing Americans Project
    20 hours ago
    Jeff Dunsavage posted a blog post

    U.S. State Department Issues Travel Warning for Belize

    The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for Belize on Wednesday, January 10, warning American citizens to exercise caution when in the country. The advisory states that violent crime, such as sexual assault, armed robbery, and murder are…See More
    Friday
    Profile IconJess Solin, Tricia Luhring, Jamie Meile and 1 more joined The Missing Americans Project
    Friday
    Jeff Dunsavage left a comment for Jamie Meile
    "Thank you for joining, Jamie. So happy to have been able to help. My best to your family. Jeff"
    Thursday
    Jeff Dunsavage left a comment for Kristine Liebe
    "Thank you for joining, Kristine. Our best to Ryan and the rest of your family."
    Thursday
    Jeff Dunsavage posted a blog post

    Maligning the Missing, Murdered, Injured, Victimized, and Their Families

    It never fails.The moment an American or other foreigner comes to harm in an exotic locale, the first response of "community activists" is to undermine his/her story, to declare them unfit for public sympathy and their families unworthy of…See More
    Thursday
    Jeff Dunsavage posted a blog post

    Costa Rica Murder Rate Hits Record High in 2017

    Costa Rica recorded its highest-ever annual murder rate in 2017, authorities said this week, blaming score-settling between gangs and drug trafficking for the rise. The nation of about five million people, still considered one of the safest relative…See More
    Jan 16
    Jeff Dunsavage commented on Susan Evans's blog post Terrifying ordeal; Happy Ending!!
    "Sue: Thank you for posting! I am so thrilled to hear this! This is our third happy ending this month -- may it be a sign of how 2018 is going to go!  Please send me a note at jeff.dunsavage@gmail.com with your phone number and a good time to…"
    Jan 16
    Susan Evans updated their profile
    Jan 11
    Jeff Dunsavage posted blog posts
    Jan 11
    Jaylene Stevenson posted a blog post

    Missing in Costa Rica please help

    https://www.facebook.com/jamie.meile/posts/10159735862035487please follow the link above. My friends brother was traveling alone in Costa Rica. He is now missing. She was…See More
    Jan 9
    Jaylene Stevenson is now a member of The Missing Americans Project
    Jan 9
    Tien K Vu is now a member of The Missing Americans Project
    Dec 31, 2017
    Jeff Dunsavage posted a blog post

    California City Official Gunned Down While Vacationing in Mexico

    An American tourist was shot and killed while apparently being robbed in a resort town on Mexico’s Pacific Coast that has become popular with surfers and Hollywood stars.Douglas Bradley was killed Thursday in the hotel zone of Ixtapa. He was on…See More
    Dec 31, 2017
    Profile IconPaula Murray and Joanne Dungca joined The Missing Americans Project
    Dec 6, 2017
    Jeff Dunsavage posted blog posts
    Dec 1, 2017
    Charlotte Blessing is now a member of The Missing Americans Project
    Nov 28, 2017
    James Meyer is now a member of The Missing Americans Project
    Nov 6, 2017

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