Scared for my sister!
April 9, 2009 12:03 PM   Subscribe

What do I about a family member who is under fbi protection and is unreachable? Is that person permitted to contact me on their own accord? Should I check with the fbi to figure out if there are, indeed, safe?

Lately I've been receiving a number of calls from my mom about my sister and the threats that her ex-fiance has apparently been leveraging against her since they broke up. (This includes numerous letters sent to her neighbors and co-workers slandering her name, as well as damage done and threatening messages graffitied onto two of her vehicles). It turns out that it's not exactly an open and shut case, and recently the fbi has gotten involved and placed her into hiding while the investigation continues. My mother is, understandably, worked up about this and I have no clue how to help except to reassure her that my sister is surely in safe hands. Unfortunately, my mother spoke to another uber-paranoid family member about this before she spoke to me. He had the gall to tell her that maybe this guy was holding a gun to my sister's head, forcing her to tell this wild story over the phone about the fbi. I consider that absurd and hate that that's planted additional fears in my mom's head. At the same time, it seems reasonable that we should be able to find out one way or another whether my sister is, at least, under the protection that she says she is. Isn't it?
posted by afabulousbeing to Law & Government (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Okay, I was a little frantic while composing my question, so please excuse the typos!
posted by afabulousbeing at 12:06 PM on April 9, 2009

I think that everything you posted is very unlikely, but you can start by contacting your local FBI field office.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:10 PM on April 9, 2009

It seems odd to me that the FBI would be involved in something like this. Often the local cops don't even get involved to this degree. Is there any reason to believe the ex would be involved in federal crimes for which you sister might be a witness? If not I find the story unlikely. More likely is that either your sister has had some sort of break from reality, perhaps about the whole thing, or she is in fact a hostage.
posted by Good Brain at 12:13 PM on April 9, 2009

Contact the FBI and ask if you can contact her.

That said, the FBI does not get involved in domestic violence cases. Unless your sister's abusive boyfriend is a capo in the New York mafia or part of a sleeper cell of terrorists or the kingpin of a Mexican drug ring your sister is probably making this stuff up about the FBI.
posted by Justinian at 12:25 PM on April 9, 2009

Almost certainly, this story about your sister being under FBI protection is a lie. This would have to be a HUGE, HUGE case for your sister to be under FBI protection.

(What Justinian said.)
posted by jayder at 12:29 PM on April 9, 2009

It seems more likely that your sister is hiding out someplace - with a friend, perhaps - and spun a yarn to your mum that she's in witness protection in order to stop her worrying, which unfortunately has had the opposite effect.

There's little else you can do apart from file a missing person report, and wait for her to surface.

Other than that, you have my sympathies.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:36 PM on April 9, 2009

Federal witness protection is provided by the US Marshals, not the FBI.
posted by nomisxid at 12:37 PM on April 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

I also suspect that there is more to this story, and that the FBI is not involved.
posted by HuronBob at 12:39 PM on April 9, 2009

Look, just because something sounds like a TV series plot, doesn't mean it's necessarily fictional. Maybe it's true, maybe it isn't. There's no need to try to "correct" the OP when he or she has said explicitly that she wants to find out the truth.

Also, dismissing something just because it sounds far-fetched can get you into a lot of trouble. See: global warming, financial crisis, etc.

So, why not just call the FBI offices? If you can, I'd try contacting the appropriate field office first. Explain that you know this sounds unlikely, but that you just want to reassure your mom, so that they'll take you more seriously than they might take whatever crank calls they often get.
posted by amtho at 1:08 PM on April 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Your sister is probably lying and/or your mother is mistaken due to the uber-paranoid relative. My ex was stalking and harassing me last year (granted, he did not graffiti my vehicle, but I caught him staking out my building and trying to see in the windows) and the police did this:


I imagine the FBI wouldn't have even reacted that much. Get in touch with your local FBI field office, calmly give your mother the evidence that your sister is stirring up drama, and get word to your sister to knock it off and grow up.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 1:11 PM on April 9, 2009

Response by poster: well she lives across the country and i personally haven't even spoken to her since all this has been going on. my mother is my sole source of information. but suddenly my sister's phone is disconnected and neither of us can get through to her. one more added detail: my sister works on a military base and some of these letters were sent to high-ranking officers and/or claimed she was having affairs with said high-ranking officers. anyway, i'm not saying it isn't possible that she came up with a story to tell my mother; it is, but i really just don't know. if we don't hear from her soon, then perhaps i should, indeed, try calling someone, i.e. a fbi field office.
posted by afabulousbeing at 1:25 PM on April 9, 2009

FBI would get involved if there was kidnapping involved across borders.
posted by bleucube at 1:47 PM on April 9, 2009

Maybe I'm missing something, but if you know where she works, why don't you call her there? If she's been showing up to work, she's not at some super secret FBI safehouse. If she's not there and her employers are wondering where the hell she is, well, at least that gives you some more info.
posted by crankylex at 1:51 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

If your sister works on a military base, you need to call the base. Based on my limited knowledge I believe that Military Police often handle investigations of crimes committed on the base. If there is any chance that your sister has, in fact, been abducted, you need to contact authorities now, not wait to see if she calls.

On the other hand, if your sister has a habit of fabricating elaborate tales (you've implied such an explanation is possible, which leads me to believe she may have done something like this before) then, well, actually, you should still contact authorities. If she's caught lying by the police or the MP's or, I don't know, AFSF or something, then she's much less likely to pull this kind of heart-wrenching egomaniacal stunt again.

Also, if she actually is under some kind of federal protection, well, no harm done by checking.

And if she isn't under protection and she has been kidnapped, then the sooner law enforcement starts looking for her the better the odds of finding her safe and sound.

So start calling.
posted by philotes at 1:56 PM on April 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Any crime involving military personnel, or taking place on military property is Federal jurisdiction (18 U.S.C. ยง 13). However, I believe the correct department which would be involved in this would be the criminal investigation unit for what ever branch of the military your sister works for, not the FBI. If she is US Army, it would be the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID). I don't know the names of the other branches investigations units, but if part of the alleged incidents took place on military base property, surely you could call the MP office for the base?
posted by strixus at 2:12 PM on April 9, 2009

Is it possible that your sister mentioned some impressive-sounding three-letter acronym or agency name, and your Mom just *heard* "FBI"?
posted by amtho at 3:08 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

The FBI is not involved. If she lives on a military base, call the base commander's office. If she lives in a civilian place, call the local police in her city/town and explain that you are concerned. Either way, don't expect a 911 emergency swat team, but someone will very likely be sent to check on her, sooner or later, and they will get back to you. Most likely, they will deliver a message that she should call you.
posted by rokusan at 3:53 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

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