Eleven days passed before Linda Pulliam of California was told that her son Kurt LeBlanc had vanished, says the Los Angeles Times. Sheriff’s deputies responded with little urgency when LeBlanc’s dad reported him missing on New Year’s Eve, 2005. LeBlanc was a 34-year-old male; even his father assumed he had gone to party with friends. In California the year he disappeared, 40,715 adults were reported missing. Most were deemed to have walked away of their own volition. Most turned up. Plenty never did; 14,000 missing-adult cases remain active in California – 50,000 nationwide.
Disappearing is not a crime. In a culture that reveres the right to reinvent oneself or self-destruct in anonymity, vanishing hardly seems suspicious. Privacy laws can hamper searches. Crucial early hours and days are squandered. Cold trails grow colder. The Times describes the difficulties faced by loved ones of adults who disappear. “I don’t think the public relates very well to someone who is just kind of a low-profile regular Joe, somebody who you can’t really say anything terrific about,” Pulliam said of her son. “Kurt was one of those people.”