Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sleuthing and Posting~Helping or Harming?

By Cynthia Caron

Previously I’ve written about those who are “maliciously creating havoc” and I would like to further write about those who specifically utilize public forums to help families of missing loved ones.  Are they truly helping or harming?  While the majority of those who tend to flock to forums, that provide an outlet to discuss high profile missing person cases, are good hearted people there are those that take opinions and freedom of speech to the extreme…an extreme that causes unnecessary stress to families of missing loved ones.

One of the families that I work very closely with is the family of Geoff Meisner.  Geoff is a 33 year old father to 4 beautiful young daughters  all under the age of eleven.  He is a wonderful husband to his wife Tammy who is a lovely woman and a caring and adoring mother.  Geoff went missing in West Kelowna, B.C on November 27, 2009.  His truck was found in a Starbucks parking lot with no trace of Geoff.  He and Tammy had just moved into a new home two weeks prior and Geoff, a martial arts enthusiast, was looking forward to a special upcoming event in which he would be a participant.  Geoff would never go missing on his own. 

While the family struggles everyday with fears and worries of possible foul play, the bloggers are posting hastily.  Many post their prayers and thoughts and well wishes for his safe return, others are posting very damaging opinions and hypothetical situations as they try to “sleuth” their way through the personal lives of Geoff and his wife.  When confronted posters will tell you that “you should not read here” if you are family or do not wish to be a part of their “sleuthing” and that they have “a right” to openly discuss their thoughts and opinions on what may have happened to Geoff.  Rumors of possible drug connections, wondered by posters of course, as well as curiosity as to the marriage of Geoff and Tammy and the potential of “could she be involved?”  This is very damaging to the reputation of the family and posters, while they feel may be helping, are in reality creating and causing serious emotional harm to the families of those missing.

Geoff’s case is not the only case in which I’ve witnessed such harm in opinions and hypotheticals.  I’ve watched this occur over and again throughout the years.  It’s never understood as to why forums cannot have a level of respect and leave the opinions to private conversations, as opposed to public postings.  We all have opinions. We all go through hypotheticals.  That is human nature.  However, to post those publicly is where the line should be drawn.  It’s very much understood once a suspect is arrested and awaiting trial, in cases of foul play, to discuss case events.   I’m more concerned about the innocent family members whose missing loved ones whereabouts are unknown and those who post decide to try and “solve” a case via conversations that invariably have nothing to do with the missing person, or the reason a person becomes missing.

 Another family that I am working closely with has a beautiful wife, mother, daughter missing and for some reason those who are posting feel the need the know what kind of work did she do from home? What kind of work did her husband do?  Why did she have a DUI and when?  How do we know what the husband has stated is factual?  Questions that have no relevance to the fact this young mother is missing.  Those who post need to be very aware that what is posted on public internet sites will remain nearly forever.  The children of missing family members will grow up and have access to all of the curiosity and assumptions of their family.  Shouldn’t those who post use a bit more discretion?  How about taking the posts that are full of inference and discuss them in a private forum? Perhaps for the children’s sake?  Let’s ask the beautiful daughters of Geoff Meisner.


  1. Most forums have guidelines or TOS and will ban people who fail to comply with them. Though I have seen some hateful things posted with nothing to back them up but a rumour of a rumour posted on another forum. People need to be held responsible for their comments.

    However, a "blogger" is a person who owns, writes and maintains a blog. People who post comments on blogs or forums are not "bloggers." Just sayin'.

  2. They need coping skills, hope and a future.

    My prayers are with them. God Bless Them.

    I'm very sorry for their suffering.

    I'm glad you're helping them Cynthia.

    Very compelling video.

    God is with them and their Daddy too.

  3. Wow, thank you Cyndi for writing about this topic!

    I lived it. You may think these are just sleuthers (or whatever you want to call them) posting their opinions but many take it further, take it too far. These posters even went so far as calling detectives and lawyers on my case. And, this included lying to authorities and telling them they were a non profit organization, when they were not! They even went so low as trying to cause a fight between my daughter and myself. Although that was pretty hysterical in itself...they didn't realize my daughter and I were one room apart from each other laughing at their failed antics. But, had it been a Mom and daughter whose relationship wasn't up too par it could have been bad and further eroded a family already in distress.

    However, I did encounter good sleuthers who instead of making this all about one upping their fellow posters took it offline and worked with me via email. Many of them still keep in touch with me and I am so thankful for their friendships.

    In a missing person case no one knows the answer until concrete proof of the answer is given to the family. Because many times there is a lack of cooperation with law enforcement on the case, or complete inactivity, the families turn to crime boards, I call them hate boards, in hopes that someone can find that one piece of the puzzle that will bring them answers. Basically you are thrown out to the wolves to try and solve your own case and in desperation the families have to seek help from total strangers.

    Looking back now would I do it again, bare my soul to the world and take the chance of it being ripped to shreds? Probably yes because the bottom line is you are searching out of love and deep concern for your loved one....some crappy, unethical sleuthers/posters/evil people would never stop me from striving to get to the answer.

    And, yes I know there are organizations out there like your organization LostNMissing and Project Jason that are ethical non profit organizations that are there to try and protect the families from some of this but unfortunately most law enforcement doesn't hand the families a list of resources and so it could be months and years before the families ever cross paths with the good organizations.

    Time runs differently for the families of the missing, one week can make a huge difference of ever finding their loved one and when you are down the road months and years, desperation, frustration and all the nameless emotions that come with the ongoing trauma of having a loved one missing guide you to make decisions that only those that have walked in our shoes can understand.


  4. Ronni, you are correct. The word "blogger" should be replaced with "poster." Albeit, I've seen some bloggers who post negative opinions without factual evidence. However, for the sake of this particular article, "posters" would be more appropriate to this article. Thanks for the clarification.


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