Kelly Snyder can’t help but hang his head slightly when he thinks back on the 87 missing persons cases that he and his team solved. “Sometimes when we do bring closure to the family, it’s not the kind of closure that we want,” he said.
Though not all of the cases resolved by the retired DEA agent end with a safely returned loved one, Snyder recognizes the value of his services to grieving families. “The biggest nightmare for a family is never knowing where their lost loved one is,” he said.
Snyder and his team are part of a nonprofit organization called the Find Me Group. They are a team of private investigators who help families whose loved ones have gone missing. But unlike traditional for-profit private investigation firms, the Find Me Group is a nonprofit and run completely by volunteers. “We never charge any families or law enforcement for our services,” said Snyder. “Even though the money comes out of our pocket, it’s not something that we think about. We do it because we want to do it.”
The Find Me Group was founded in 2002 and has solved 87 missing persons cases to date. Their solve rate of 44 percent is well above that of any other private investigative team that works on missings persons cases. Snyder attributes this success to the strength and expertise of his volunteers. “Everyone on our team puts their heart and soul into every case we work,” Snyder said. “We have retired and active law enforcement agents, skilled search, track, rescue and recovery specialists, as well as highly trained animals.”
In recent months, the Find Me Group has run low on resources, and 26 families with missing loved ones wait in the pipeline. “The biggest stumbling block is not having the funding in order to go anywhere and everywhere that we can to help these families,” said Snyder. A typical day of local search operations costs the organization between $1,500 to $5,000 in search and rescue efforts, equipment and travel expenses.
Sick of having to turn down families in desperate need of his help, Snyder decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign. The Find Me Group crowdfunding campaign is attempting to raise $10,000 in three months so that the Find Me Group can focus on what they do best: finding people. Visit the crowdfunding donation page at bit.ly/FindMeGroup.