He says the first step in a missing case is a family contacting the police as soon as they think a loved one is missing, then a detective gets involved.By Casey Albritton

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Gabby Petito is a name people all over the country know. She was reported missing and was recently found dead. A preliminary autopsy ruled her death as a homicide. But how are missing person cases, like this one, handled? Former Tampa Police investigator and current certified investigator with the Tampa Police Benevolent Association, Tom Singleton, has worked several missing-person cases in his career

“Am I doing enough? Am I doing enough? Am I turning over every stone so to speak?” said Singleton.

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He says when someone goes missing, he searches non-stop.

“You have many sleepless hours and sleepless nights,” said Singleton.

He says the first step in a missing case is a family contacting the police as soon as they think a loved one is missing, then a detective gets involved.

“You want to make obviously contact with those that know this person and get as much background information as you can,” said Singleton.

Next is to create a bulletin or flyer and distribute it to local police departments and media.

“With all of the description of that person, car, anything like that,” said Singleton.

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Then Singleton says investigators get in their cars and physically search for that person as soon as they can.

“Go to the areas where they possibly might have been last seen,” said Singleton.

He says the sooner someone is reported missing, the sooner law enforcement may be able to find them

“The longer the time frame, it starts to diminish. The interest, not for the detectives obviously involved, but the interested because other things are happening,” said Singleton.

He says the first 48 hours is most important and detectives try to keep the case in the public’s eye for as long as they can, but sometimes that isn’t enough. When it comes to the Gabby Petito case, he says investigators had a tough job and he wishes the outcome was different.

“Where she was last reported missing, it’s a vast area to cover. I can only feel for the investigators, for the officers and law enforcement who was involved,” said Singleton.

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Singleton says if you think a loved one is missing, you should contact your local police department immediately.