Interview with a Professional Forensic Researcher: Janie C.


By: HeirSearch

At HeirSearch, our team of professional forensic researchers come from a variety of different backgrounds but share a passion for research and genealogy. Learn more about Janie C., one of our Senior Forensic Genealogists, and one of her most gratifying cases.

What’s your professional background?

Before coming to HeirSearch, I had twelve years of experience locating individuals in Canada, the United States, and Europe. I’ve now worked for HeirSearch as a professional Senior Forensic Genealogist for seventeen years.

In my career, I’ve personally researched and resolved over 1,000 estate-related cases and researched overseas in countries such as England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia, and Bulgaria.

HeirSearch, as an organization, is a member of the National Genealogical Society and holds memberships in genealogical societies in New York, Utah, Delaware, Washington State, British Columbia, and several international organizations.

I have also completed professional courses in American genealogy, heirship research, and forensic genealogy.

How long have you been working at HeirSearch, and what made you decide to join the company?

I joined HeirSearch in 2003, but I knew about and liked the company even before I joined. I enjoy the challenge of finding people—HeirSearch offers me the opportunity to do just that.

 What is your area of specialty?

I specialize in adoptions and property matters, but I love digging for the unknown.

 What do you like the most about HeirSearch?

I enjoy the variety of cases. The work that I do often helps put families back together, and I find that very gratifying. The staff and management at HeirSearch are like family.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

I genuinely relish the challenge and satisfaction of solving cases, and I’m proud to work at the top heir search firm in the industry. I value having earned the respect of my co-workers and management, and I love having flexible hours to do what I love to do.

Tell us about the most gratifying case you’ve resolved for HeirSearch.

In 2012, I received a particularly challenging case. The case began as a sad story, but, in the end, it had, I think, the best possible result.

A young woman, Sally, was in her early 20s and living in Kansas when she lost her parents. Her parents had left her with a sizeable trust that provided her with a monthly income. Still, she was profoundly impacted by the loss, as she was particularly close to her mother. The family had a close relationship with the trustee, who took an interest in overseeing the trust and Sally as the beneficiary.

Unfortunately, as the impact of her loss weighed on Sally, she began to withdraw from friends and family. Eventually, they lost contact with her, and mysteriously, she stopped cashing her monthly checks.

When I began the case, Sally’s whereabouts were unknown, and there had been no recent contact with friends or family. At first, picking up her trail proved difficult until a tip from a family member came in. They were in San Francisco and had potentially seen Sally living on the streets. They didn’t approach her as they weren’t positive it was her but made a call to the family back home. They didn’t see her again.

Armed with this new information, I began researching southern San Francisco’s most-frequented homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and free medical clinics. I also reached out to local police, including the Missing Persons department in the Southern San Francisco Police Station. The SFPD had a dedicated unit whose job it was to monitor the city’s homeless population.

We contacted an officer within that unit and provided information about Sally. Incredibly, the officer recalled seeing someone that may match that description and knew where he could find her to confirm her identity. According to the officer, Sally appeared to be in good health and of sound mind.

Once that Sally had been identified and located, we continued to work with the Trustee and the SFPD to arrange contact with Sally and ensure that she received her inheritance. The trustee, who had been very close with the family, flew from Kansas to San Francisco, met with the SFPD officer, and together they went to find Sally personally, with a check in hand.

In the end, Sally received her inheritance and reconnected with her family. With this support, she had a chance for a fresh start. Our client was thrilled with the result. It was the best possible ending to what could have been a tragic story.

Are you interested in joining our team of professional forensic researchers?

Forensic genealogy isn’t a solo effort—it takes a dedicated team to deliver superior results. At HeirSearch, we offer competitive wages, comprehensive benefits, and the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business. Get in touch today!


Although accurate in scope, all identifying information such as names, dates and locations have been changed in order to protect the privacy of individuals. This report is for informational purposes only and is intended only as a reference. HeirSearch does not endorse or recommend any of the products or services offered in the third-party articles or content contained within. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or effectiveness of the same and will not assume any liability related to the same. Additionally, nothing contained herein may be construed as legal advice. All offers are void where prohibited by law. Copyright © International Genealogical Search Inc. All rights reserved.