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

U.S. Family of 4, Missing in Mexico, Found Dead

A family of four that was reported missing overnight has been found dead in Mexico. The bodies of Kevin, Amy, Sterling and Adrianna Sharp were discovered Friday inside a condominium, CBS Des Moines affiliate KCCI reports

"Autopsies are being performed in Mexico and results are pending," the Creston Police Department said in a statement.

There were no signs of foul play, according to police, KCCI reported. A local news outlet in Mexico reports investigators are looking into whether food poisoning or a gas leak could have been responsible. 

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Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on March 24, 2018 at 6:01am

Boater Missing After Leaving Dry Tortugas

A boater who sailed from Charlotte County is missing.

Benjamin Hartman left Charlot Harbor on Feb. 22 to sail to St. Augustine.

He was last seen on Feb. 27 when he left Dry Tortugas en route to Key West.

Hartman is sailing by himself on his 31-foot 1970 Kenner Sailboat that is blue and white. Its registration number is FL3831SK.

The Coast Guard is searching for Hartman and the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office has asked that anyone with information contact Detective Stephen Burke at 941-639-2101 or sburke@ccso.org.

Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on March 22, 2018 at 7:43pm

Search Underway for 3 Italians Detained by Mexican Police in Jalisco

Authorities are investigating the disappearance of three Italians who went missing after they were detained by police at a petrol station in Tecalitlán, Jalisco, on the Jan. 31. Friends and family marched in Naples, "demanding answers from the Mexican government."

The three men have been identified as Raffaele Russo, 60; his son Antonio Russo, 25, and his nephew Vincenzo Cimmino, 29. Authorities have stated that the three were on a business trip at the time of their disappearance. Raffaele Russo sells electric generators, and the group was staying in Guadalajara.

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Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on March 4, 2018 at 11:30am

Explosive Attacks on Tourist Ferries in Mexico Lead to U.S. Travel Warning

On March 1, undetonated explosive devices were found by Mexican law enforcement on a tourist ferry that operates between Cozumel-Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  On February 21, an explosive device detonated on a tourist ferry in Playa del Carmen resulting in injuries, including to U.S. citizens.  U.S. Government employees are prohibited from using all tourist ferries on this route until further notice.  Mexican and U.S. law enforcement continue to investigate.

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Notably, the warning advises: "Purchase travel insurance that specifically covers you in Mexico and includes medical evacuation insurance." This is good advice whenever and wherever you travel. Also buy coverage for repatriation of remains.

Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on March 4, 2018 at 11:26am

My Child Is Missing Abroad: What Do I Do Now?

Having a family member suddenly go missing is a terrifying experience; having this happen while your loved one is traveling in a foreign country compounds the fear with myriad complications.

What do you do when you get the phone call? Or, worse, when there is no call; when your traveling child or sibling or parent or friend, who has been diligently staying in touch throughout his or her trip, suddenly falls silent?

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Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on February 13, 2018 at 8:32am

U.S. Issues New Warning for Nassau, Bahamas

The U.S. government has issued more crime warnings for the Bahamas than for all locations in the Caribbean. 

Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault is common, even during daylight hours and in tourist areas. U.S. government personnel are not permitted to visit the Sand Trap area in Nassau due to crime. Jet-ski operators are known to commit sexual assaults against tourists, including minors. As a result, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands." 

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Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on February 10, 2018 at 6:46am

U.S. State Department Rolls Out New Advisory Categories

If you’re planning on going to a country with a Level-4 warning, the U.S State Department suggests you draft your will and plan your funeral ahead of time.

It’s all part of their new system of travel advisories that rolled out on January 10, which ranks places on a scale of one to four with a corresponding color code.

Read full article

Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on February 2, 2018 at 4:09pm

19 U.S. Visitors to Cuba Report Symptoms Similar to Those Suffered by Diplomats

Nineteen American citizens have reported symptoms similar to those suffered by U.S. diplomats who had been identified as victims of alleged attacks in Cuba.

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Posted by Jeff Dunsavage on February 2, 2018 at 4:01pm

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    U.S. Family of 4, Missing in Mexico, Found Dead

    A family of four that was reported missing overnight has been found dead in Mexico. The bodies of…See More
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    Boater Missing After Leaving Dry Tortugas

    A boater who sailed from Charlotte County is missing.Benjamin Hartman left Charlot Harbor on Feb.…See More
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    My Child Is Missing Abroad: What Do I Do Now?

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