Understanding the World of Cybersleuths: Managing Your Local Sherlocks

Understanding the World of Cybersleuths: Managing Your Local Sherlocks
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded September 26, 2017
Unit 1 Presentation: Understanding the World of Cybersleuths
Unit 2 Recording: Understanding the World of Cybersleuths

Cybersleuths are the modern-day Sherlock Holmes. They are those citizens who might know something about a case and want to step forward with their information. They could also be just regular citizens who want to actively participate in safeguarding the communities they belong to and cooperate with law enforcement in doing so. Whatever their motivations be, curiosity, hobby or an innate drive to help, it cannot be denied that cybersleuths are a welcome addition to the criminal justice system. After all, a hundred heads are better than one, and with the internet, even more people get the opportunity to be involved.


Unfortunately, having more people working on something isn’t always the most effective way of doing it. At some point, these tens, hundreds or even thousands of people, are just saying the same thing – on loop. Here, law enforcement veers farther and farther away from productivity and efficiency – spending time sifting and filtering through calls and messages instead of doing actual groundwork and analysis.


Todd Matthews is the Director of NamUs and he joins Justice Clearinghouse on this webinar as the resource speaker. He discusses the benefits of having volunteers and some of the disadvantages experienced. He also talks about how technology, through NamUs, empowers these cybersleuths and helps the law enforcement and justice system to find a resolution to their cases in a more timely and efficient way.


Some of the specific areas Todd covered on the webinar are:

  • The different Cybersleuth groups that rose as early as the mid-90s.
  • The various and evolving channels utilized by the cybersleuths and their groups to coordinate with law enforcers.
  • The most common issues encountered by law enforcement working with cybersleuths that involve repetitive, incomplete, or irrelevant information.
  • The various features and functionalities of NamUs that allows:

    • Public participation to enter details of a missing person’s case
    • Automated and intelligent matching based on a number of factors and qualifiers
    • Public view of case files and databases
    • Case archiving for resolved cases
  • How the missing person case of Tent Girl that went on for thirty years became the precursor leading to the creation of NamUs and the proliferation of the cybersleuth community.
  • Ways for law enforcement to clarify the help they need from the public.
  • Tips on the type of things to look out for, and pieces of evidence that can be utilized during an investigation.
  • Other ways for cybersleuths to contribute and help law enforcement instead of just providing leads and tips.
  • How NamUs provided better clarity and resolution to a more than 90-year-old case in Kentucky.
  • Recommendations to law enforcers on how to minimize the repetitive tips and leads they’re receiving.
  • Identifying useful and helpful cybersleuths from the bunch that might not be as much.
  • Utilizing NamUs when dealing with fugitives of justice.

Additional Mentioned Resources:

The Skeleton Crew

Additional Resources
4 months ago
Webinar Notes: Understanding the World of Cybersleuths
Webinar Notes Understanding the World of Cybersleuths   Webinar Focus (0:22) […]
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6 months ago
Understanding Your Local “Sherlocks” and the World of Cybersleuths: An Interview with Todd Matthews
The popularity of TV series like Sherlock, Elementary, and real life crime shows such as Forensic […]
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