By: Uncovered Staff
What is The Charley Project? Before we dive into the website and its creator, Meagan Good, let’s start with a quick background into missing persons reports in the United States to get an understanding of why websites like Meaghan’s exist.
The National Missing and Unidentified Persons (NamUS) database reports that more than 600,000 people go missing in the United States every year. While many are located quickly—often alive and unharmed—thousands remain missing, relying on law enforcement and media to dedicate available resources in order to raise awareness and conduct investigations aimed at finding those missing persons.
Unfortunately, resources are limited, and many cases don’t garner the attention they deserve.
Since 1980, more than 200,000 cases of the missing and murdered have gone cold, and their likelihood of being solved increasingly depends on support from community members and advocates who can shine a light on them.
Uncovered knows this crisis all too well, which is why we’re using the power of the community to uncover answers and bring hope to the families of the missing or murdered.
We’re not alone in this mission.
If you’re a researcher that spends hours every day or every week on the internet looking for clues in cold cases, you’ve most definitely found yourself on The Charley Project’s website.
Since its inception in 2004, The Charley Project has made a name for itself as a phenomenal resource for the unsolved case. Have you ever wondered what the backstory is for the database?
What Is The Charley Project?
The Charley Project maintains a database of cold case profiles on more than 14,000 missing persons in the United States. In order to be eligible for a listing on The Charley Project’s website, a person must be missing for at least one year. While The Charley Project does not actively investigate cases, it seeks to raise awareness and provide publicity to cases of people who might otherwise be overlooked by mass media and/or law enforcement.
Why Is It Called The Charley Project?
Charles Brewster Ross, a four-year-old boy from Germantown, Pennsylvania, was nicknamed Charley. On July 1, 1874, he was abducted from his home. His family devoted their lives to finding him, searching all over the world and garnering international attention. Charley’s kidnapping was not the first in the United States, but it was one of the first to receive widespread publicity. Unfortunately, their search proved unsuccessful, and Charley remained lost forever.
Today, there is no evidence of his fate, and his story is almost forgotten. It is possible that he died shortly after his disappearance or lived the rest of his life under a different identity with another family, unaware that he was missing.
To keep Charley’s memory alive and honor all long-missing people in the country, Meaghan’s website was named after him.
Meet Meaghan Good
Meaghan Good grew up in a tiny Ohio town eleven miles from the nearest traffic light. Despite being in a small town with no personal experience with a missing loved one, Meaghan was incredibly empathetic, and became interested in missing persons in her teenage years. She’d spent hours falling down case rabbit holes.
The Charley Project was founded by Meaghan on October 12, 2004, shortly after Meaghan turned 19 years old.
After taking an interest in missing persons cases and striking up a friendship with Jennifer Marra (who founded the Missing Persons Cold Case Network, MPCCN), Meaghan assumed leadership of MPCCN when Jennifer resigned. Eventually, she re-launched it as The Charley Project in order 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.”
Meaghan credits her ability to maintain intense focus while collecting reliable cold case data to her autism spectrum disorder — something she was diagnosed with when she was 23.
Since founding The Charley Project, she has put her unique ability to good use in researching cold cases and building a massive, curated database of case files that others can use to streamline their own investigations.
The Charley Project name was inspired by a missing person case from 1874, in which a four-year-old boy named Charles “Charley” Brewster Ross was kidnapped from his home in Pennsylvania and never seen again.
Even though his case was highly publicized shortly after his disappearance, the attention faded over time, and now his case is mostly unknown. Meaghan founded The Charley Project to help ensure other missing persons cases receive as much attention and publicity as possible so that those who are missing can be found.
Notable Milestones For The Charley Project
As detailed on The Charley Project website, these are some key milestones in the site’s history:
- October 12, 2004: Charley Project founded
- January 28, 2005: Alphabetical indexes of cases added
- January 31, 2005: Criteria for case inclusion added
- March 23, 2005: Linking banners added
- March 25, 2005: Recommended books added
- April 1, 2005: Chronological indexes of cases added
- December 16, 2008: Charley Project Blog created
- September 2009: Charley Project Twitter feed created
- March 16, 2012: Charley Project Facebook account created