How do I find someone, or maybe what happened to them?
February 5, 2018 7:42 PM   Subscribe

I met a non-traditional student while i was at school, and we became friends. She's since made some choices I question, and we've lost touch. How do I find her? Sad snowflakes inside.

I'd appreciate the AskMefi take on how to go about finding someone with whom one has lost touch, who might have passed on. She was a non-traditional student whom I became friends with at school, closer to my mom's age. She was very funny and pleasant to talk to, and I appreciated her company immensely, but she always had depressive tendencies, and made at least one suicide attempt I'm aware of while we were close.

She made the decision to go to New York a few years back, to live close to an inmate she had been corresponding with and ultimately married. I had serious doubts about this idea, and voiced them to her on several occasions. When last I spoke to her, it sounded as if the initial happiness was fading, and she had mentioned possibly getting a divorce, at the urging of the man's family, no less.

So now I'm wondering, how can I go about finding her? I've tried calling and searching Facebook, though she was never very active on the latter. Her phone goes unanswered. I know her name, including a couple variations due to marriage, etc. but am not quite sure where to begin.

I don't know if I want to rekindle the friendship, if that's even possible. I worry she might have committed suicide or otherwise passed on, and I would at least like to know if that happened. I would appreciate any advice or oddball suggestions you might have.
posted by Alensin to Human Relations (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried a Google search of her name + obituary? I've, sadly, found a couple of people this way. It's good to eliminate this early as a possibility.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 8:06 PM on February 5, 2018

By school I assume you mean college or university? If so, try contacting the alumni office and see if they have her current information and/or would be willing to forward a message from you.

If you manage to get her contact information and you want to write, I recommend you send a short message: "I have been thinking of you and wanted to say hello. I hope you are doing well! If you'd like to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you at xyz." Please keep in mind that some people are too embarrassed or ashamed by the current state of their lives or just completely overwhelmed by their situation to reach out but appreciate your thinking of them. I'd also ask yourself what you really want from getting in touch. I think you have a good intentions but sometimes we have to look inside and weigh the pros and cons. There are people I've lost touch with and would love to say check in on but don't want to restart the relationship, especially if it had complications: I just send good vibes and hope they are doing well. I'd think about worse case scenarios here, too -- will you be able to listen without judgement? Would you be able to set boundaries if you started feeling uncomfortable?
posted by smorgasbord at 8:08 PM on February 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

Try these searches (First Last = her first and last name, HFirst Last = husband's first and last name). If she commonly uses a middle name, try "First M Last" and "First Middle Last" variations as well. Same for her husband if you happen to know.

"First Last" Town - repeat with variations of last name. Also try without quotes.
"First Last" "HFirst Last"
"First Last" - repeat for each local paper, try again with husband's name
Try Google news instead of Google search.
Use Google search tools to restrict results to within the last year esp if lots of results
"First Last" divorce! OR obituary! OR arrest!
"HFirst Last" divorce! OR obituary! OR arrest!

Use inmate lookup to look for her husband to see if he has been incarcerated again - this only covers federal inmates. Try New York's DOC lookup for state records.

Apparently NY State has searchable court records online. I haven't attempted to figure it out but it looks like you'll need to run multiple searches to see if there are any court records available.

Google her email. Also try her email as a search on FB. Same for phone number.

Her county may have property records online. These can be tricky - in my town you can't search by name but you can search by address to see who owns the property.

This isn't something I've ever attempted but you might try the office of the coroner - which I think is at the city level.

Be careful with yourself - it's easy to go down a rabbit hole on something like this in a way that isn't entirely healthy. Above suggestions to think ahead for a variety of outcomes are solid. I hope your friend is okay. Keep in mind that if she's left him she may be hiding and you may not be able to find her at all right now and it could be invasive and scary for her if you did. This might be a situation where no news is good news.
posted by bunderful at 5:26 AM on February 6, 2018 [6 favorites]

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