Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Charley Project do?

Okay, so what does it do then?

    The Charley Project serves as a publicity vehicle and clearinghouse of information for missing persons. It attempts to catalog as much information as possible about as many cases as possible into a database as a publicity/investigative aid for the public and law enforcement to help solve cases. A wide variety of sources are used, such as other databases, news media accounts, law enforcement, information supplied by friends and family members of the missing, and books, and all the information contained therein is summarized on each missing person's Charley Project casefile. In this way, instead of having to track down, say, twenty different news articles from five different news sources about a missing person, an interested party can simply go to the Charley Project and find it all in one place.

Who is Charley?

    Charley was the nickname of Charles Brewster Ross, who was abducted from his home in Germantown, Pennsylvania on July 1, 1874, when he was just four years old. His family spent the rest of their lives looking for him in a search that extended over the world and gained international attention. His was by no means the first kidnapping in the United States, but it was one of the first highly publicized ones. Sadly, the search was unsuccessful; Charley would remain forever lost. There is no evidence at all as to his fate, and his story has been nearly forgotten. This site was named in honor of Charley so that his memory, and the memories of all other long-missing people in this country, would not be forgotten. His pictures also appear on the website banners.

    A history of the Charley Project can be found here.

How many members comprise the Charley Project? Can I volunteer?

Is the Charley Project on social media?

Does the Charley Project feature every missing person in the United States?

    No, not by far. It is impossible to determine how many people are reported missing every year; there is no centralized database, and many reports are misplaced or closed without being solved. In any case, the Charley Project profiles only a miniscule number of all the people who disappear every year.

Why does the Charley Project feature only cases that have been active for a year or longer?

    For practical reasons, mostly; the site is written by only one person, who also does most of the research, and there are so many missing persons that the administrator has a very difficult time keeping the casefiles current. It would be much harder if the timeline was reduced and more recent disappearances were also profiled.

How are the cases selected for the database?

    The criteria section explains the guidelines for case inclusion.

Does the Charley Project accept donations?

    Yes. There is a PayPal link for donations on the front page.

Why don't you accept tips or possible matches between missing and unidentified persons?

    As the Charley Project is solely the work of one administrator, and this administrator is a private person who has no law enforcement affiliations, it's simply not an appropriate venue for tips. If you think you have information that would be helpful in solving a case, contact the law enforcement phone number(s) given at the bottom of each casefile. If you wish to submit a possible match with an unidentified body, NamUs, a government database that helps match missing persons with John and Jane Does, would also be a good place to go to.

Are you in touch with the family members of the missing persons featured on the site?

    Usually, no. The Charley Project has a policy of not "cold contacting" loved ones of the missing, in order to protect their privacy. Occasionally, friends or family members of missing persons will write to the administrator.

I can no longer find a case that was profiled on the Charley Project's site and it is not featured in the Resolved Cases section. What happened?

    Certain resolved cases may not be featured in that section at the request of family members or law enforcement officers. In addition, the individual or their family may have requested that his/her privacy be respected. Or a file may be removed for other reasons.

I found a factual error in one of the Charley Project cases. What can be done?

My loved one is missing. What should I do?

    If the person is a minor (under age 18), contact your local law enforcement agency immediately. Contrary to popular belief, there is no waiting period if reporting a missing child. The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) also provides extensive information regarding missing children's cases.

    If the person is an adult, contact your local law enforcement agency as soon as possible and inquire about their protocol in such cases. Some agencies may only allow the missing person's family member(s) to file a report. Other agencies require a certain time period to have passed (usually 24 to 48 hours) before they accept a report, unless the missing individual is disabled or there is clear evidence that he/she is in danger.

Can I link to the Charley Project?

    By all means, do so.

I, too, write about missing persons on the internet. Can I use information from Charley Project casefiles?

    Of course, as long as you credit the Charley Project as a source for that information. A simple footnote or endnote or something like that is all that's required. The administrator, however, is very much against using Charley Project information with any mention of where it came from. The use policy as generous as it is and it would be within the Charley Project's rights to not allow any information from the database to be used at all. It isn't too much to ask for a credit, even in tiny print in and inconspicuous place, and it's just the decent thing to do.

I am a reporter or other media person. Can I interview you and/or mention the Charley Project in an article?

    The Charley Project's administrator would be happy to grant interviews and (just email or sending to message on Facebook or Twitter). The Charley Project gives permission for all reporters to mention the Charley Project (see above) in print or television or other media, as long as the website is given credit.

I would like to post advertisements on, which would provide money for both the ad company and the Charley Project itself. Is that a possbility? And if it isn't, why not?

    No. For personal and private reasons, the administrator doesn't want ads posted on the website, and repeated solicitations will not them change their mind.

I am listed as a "missing" person, but I am alive and well and do not want to be "found." How do I get my listing closed?

    If you are an adult and of sound mind and you do not want to be found, contact the investigating police department and identify yourself. They should close your file and would not be legally allowed to tell your relatives etc. where you are, due to privacy laws. Once your file has been closed, and you want it removed from the Charley Project, contact the administrator and explain the situation and it will be done. The same thing applies if you ran away from home as a minor but are now over the age of 18. People who are under 18, however, may be made to return to their guardians.

I am the so-called "abductor" of my own child who is listed on your website. I want my child's name and photograph removed immediately.

    The Charley Project will not remove a family abduction casefile at the request of the non-custodial relative and, if the administrator receives any such requests, she will forward them to the police.

What about people like, say, Dorothy Arnold, who are obviously dead due to time factors, and other cases almost certainly cannot ever be solved? Why does the Charley Project post those cases?

    Just because a person is missing doesn't mean that they didn't exist once. Really, really old cases are posted for their historical value. Those cases and other cases where it's obvious the person will never be located (i.e. cases where the missing person's body is presumed to have been destroyed) are posted in part as a memorial to the missing individual; they deserve to be remembered too. There is also a historical interest in very old cases.

Why are some of the photos of such poor quality?

    The Charley Project has to use whatever photographs are available. The administrator uses a web graphics program to improve bad photos: fix contrasts and colors, paint over tears and spots, etc. Retouching can only do so much, however. The Charley Project would never refuse to accept a case because of a poor quality photo.

Why are there occasional lapses between database updates?

    The administrator spends the majority of her online time working on the Charley Project. However, she does take temporary "breaks" from the site when she needs to devote additional time to other pursuits, or when she does not have access to the internet. The pauses are short-lived and she always returns to the Charley Project soon. If she has advanced warning that she will have to be absent for awhile, she will post a notice on the updates page and/or the blog.


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