I’m working on a next of kin case for a 36 year old immigrant who died in 2001. At the time, the medical examiners were unable to locate next of kin. They posted the case on Claim Us hoping family or friends would see him there and contact the medical examiner.
When I started working on this case, I contacted the police, the former employer, the hotel, and the housing department asking for information. None of them have records from 15 years ago.The police department could provide a case number without any additional information because they destroy their files after five years. I asked for ideas on my Facebook page. My friend Nancy saw the post and emailed a relative, who emailed a Vietnamese friend, who emailed the director of the Vietnamese Friendship Association, who forwarded the email to the Vietnamese American Community of Seattle & Sno-King Counties, a grassroots group of community members that organize around cultural and political events, and the president of that organization recommended a woman who might be able to help, and the whole string of forwarded emails came back to me last night. Today I wrote to the contact that I’ve been provided: “Mr. Thang Van Pham died in a hotel in Everett, Washington in December 2001. The medical examiners tried to find his family but could not locate them. Now it has been many years and the police and the hotel no longer have any records and cannot help. I wonder if the Vietnamese community may have online websites, newspaper, or churches in Washington where we could spread the word to see if anyone knew Mr. Thang Van Pham or his brother.”
Maybe social media will help find the family for this young man.