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  1. #1
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    Missing vs. Witness Protection

    At any given time, there are approximately 50,000 missing adults in the USA. I have often wondered if even a few of those could be people who have witnessed crimes and been placed in the Witness Protection Program. It is my understanding that when one enters the WPP, they have to cut off all contact with family, friends, etc. and are also unable to talk about the relocation, even to the fact that they are being relocated.
    I know it would not apply to the missing children, or obviously to people who are snatched out of a parking lot or abducted under some other means, but is it possible that some of the missing are missing by choice, or missing because they are now someone else, at least as far as their identity is concerned.
    This is my first post, by the way, so please be kind!
    I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. --Barry Goldwater, Jr.

  2. #2
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    Hi ValleySailor, welcome to WS.

    I don't know the answer to your question. But I was curious to see what I could find.

    If we suppose that you are talking about the Federal Program for Witness protection then I found this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witness_Protection_Program

    "Normally, the witness is provided with a new name and location. Witnesses are encouraged to keep their first names and choose last names with the same initial, in order to make it easier to use instinctively the new identity. The U.S. Marshals Service provides new documentation, assists in finding housing and employment and provides a stipend until the witness gets on his or her feet, but the stipend can be discontinued if the U.S. Marshals Service feels that the witness is not making an aggressive effort to find a job. Witnesses are not to travel back to their hometowns or contact unprotected family members or former associates. In order to do everything possible to preclude the possibility that the witness could be followed, the witness is made to adhere to an extremely convoluted and indirect transportation path, before finally reaching the distant location where they will live under the new identity. Often, the transit involves a long chain of seemingly random air flights, with times and locations which are intended to be difficult for a potential adverse party to anticipate."

    So, I'm inclined to think that even though these people that have entered into the Federal Witness Program can't contact family members themselves (family members that do not have protection) that it is possible they are informed of the status of their loved one so that they don't needlessly suffer thinking the worst has come to that relative.

    From this article we get a number for how many states have their own programs for witness protection:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...oryId=14034143

    There are 14 states that offer their own version of the Witness Protection program as well.

    So that's what I could find in helping you to determine whether or not some of these people are in the Witness Protection Program and can't contact home and have been listed as missing by their families.

    Is it possible that some of the missing are missing by choice? I don't see why not? Could very well be a factor.

    Again, welcome to WS and just jump right in!
    "Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind." ~ Henry James

  3. #3
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    I'm fascinated by the witness protection program and the way it works. If anyone knows of any books about the program (fictional or non-fiction), I'd love recommendations. I can't imagine being put in a place where I had to start a whole new life with no connections to the life I've always known.

  4. #4
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    Anna Quindlan's Black and Blue immediately comes to mind -- a fictitious story about an abused woman who flees with her young son, and basically starts a new life in a new place. She undergoes pretty much all the steps described in these posts. It is, as you might imagine, incredibly difficult, and there are many setbacks along the way.

  5. #5
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    This is so interesting, I'm trying to ask around for suggestions on books about it- do the protected witnesses get new social security numbers and everything? what happens to debts or businesses? and degrees?

    If you were an MD before, and you got a new identity, how would you be able to practice medicine in your new life? The government couldn't really make up new credentials for you? So strange !

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hucklepie View Post
    I'm fascinated by the witness protection program and the way it works. If anyone knows of any books about the program (fictional or non-fiction), I'd love recommendations. I can't imagine being put in a place where I had to start a whole new life with no connections to the life I've always known.
    This is a true story that ended in murder:

    Jan. 9, 1993:William M. Paasche, 39, is shot in the head by one of two men who held him and a friend at gunpoint. The murder may be the final mystery in the life of a man who was born William Kirk Bennett and changed his identity while in the Federal Witness Protection program.

    http://www.thetimesherald.com/apps/p...WS01/801200303 Link to newspaper article- Michigan newspaper.

    He and his wife were a rather interesting couple while they were the Paasches.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the recommendations! I've heard of William Paasche but never read anything about the case, I'll have to seek out both of these books. Mary Higgins Clark had a fictional book about the witness protection program - "Now You See Her," maybe? It was pretty good.

    From the (admittedly not much) that I've read, the government can help you resettle somewhere and give you basic references to find a job, but can't issue any credentials or anything like that. I remember people speculating on a forum a couple of years ago that possibly Tara Grinstead, the missing teacher from Georgia, had gone into the WPP for whatever reason and was possibly teaching somewhere else, and I couldn't imagine how she could have gotten a teaching job when the gov't couldn't issue her a teaching license under a different name. I don't think there's any chance that that happened, but it was an interesting idea.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hucklepie View Post
    Thanks for the recommendations! I've heard of William Paasche but never read anything about the case, I'll have to seek out both of these books. Mary Higgins Clark had a fictional book about the witness protection program - "Now You See Her," maybe? It was pretty good.

    From the (admittedly not much) that I've read, the government can help you resettle somewhere and give you basic references to find a job, but can't issue any credentials or anything like that. I remember people speculating on a forum a couple of years ago that possibly Tara Grinstead, the missing teacher from Georgia, had gone into the WPP for whatever reason and was possibly teaching somewhere else, and I couldn't imagine how she could have gotten a teaching job when the gov't couldn't issue her a teaching license under a different name. I don't think there's any chance that that happened, but it was an interesting idea.
    I am sorry if I mislead you about the Paasche case- I haven't heard of a book available. The link is to a local newspaper story. The area they relocated to was small and rather conservative- rumor had it they were set to be "kicked out" of the WPP, I don't know if it's true as it was a rumor after he was murdered. I wondered if his murder was connected to his being in the WPP, but have been curious if it was just a coincidence and he fell into another unsavory group. Not sure if it will ever be known.

    When people are entered into the WPP, wouldn't their fingerprints, etc... be entered into some file within the government? (So if something happened to them they would still have an original identity somewhere?)

    It's an interesting subject.

  9. #9
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    While I have no idea how it works here in Texas, my girlfriend's brother went into the 'witness program' in Canada and they were informed what he was doing but not where he was going, how long, even if it was forever, etc. He was given the chance to say goodbye but not allowed to provide any details period.

    Ultimately, he was charged with drug possession & distribution for being a passenger in a traffic arrest and the guy (driver of the vehicle) had about a $1million in cocaine in his trunk.

    Ryan (my friends brother) was put into the program until a successful conviction of the actual drug dealer. He was gone almost 3 years. If the guy wasn't convicted, I haven't a clue what would have happened to Ryan as this was a volunteer decision and not forced on him. I don't think it's forced on people in the USA either? Don't know?

    I'd like to hope in the USA there's a higher government that can delete anything, including fingerprints no matter the system it's in? Who knows.
    Last edited by PattyCake; 02-16-2009 at 02:29 PM. Reason: clarification
    Only my opinion, no one else need agree.

  10. #10
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    From what I remember in the book "Wiseguys" (the book the movie "Goodfellas" is based on) Henry Hill and his wife's family knew they were going into witness protection. In fact I remember reading that Mrs. Hill's mother helped them pack up their old house. In the book it explained thow everything worked from the kids school records, picking out new names, and comming back to testify against Jimmy Burke and Paul Vario. I honestly don't think that missing adults are in witness protection. I would never give up the hope that they are but I don't think it's a reality. Though I think it was an excellant topic to explore.
    Last edited by Nyla4; 02-16-2009 at 02:05 PM. Reason: used the word wife accidently instead of mother


  11. #11
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    Check this out- we just had a case of someone who was in the witness protection program (mob informant) "outed" in our local paper! Wonder what the government thought of this article

    http://www.news-journalonline.com/Ne...FLAG020609.htm

    Notice where it says a Lincoln Towncar with NJ plates came to see him! Uh oh!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unsolved View Post
    Check this out- we just had a case of someone who was in the witness protection program (mob informant) "outed" in our local paper! Wonder what the government thought of this article

    http://www.news-journalonline.com/Ne...FLAG020609.htm

    Notice where it says a Lincoln Towncar with NJ plates came to see him! Uh oh!
    He kind of opened himself up to speculation when he pistol whipped a customer! OMG!



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