“This is not in any way a profession for any of us,” said Brady, who estimated he spends around four hours a week on a PC laptop in his spare room. “This is a hobby. We all have families and jobs.” It’s not necessarily the kind of hobby you bring up over lunch, especially when you’ve been perusing morgue photos, as Brady sometimes does, to help confirm or rule out a potential match. “I used to kind of hide it, to be honest,” Brady said. “I was a little more circumspect because people would say, ‘That’s creepy.’ It spooked some people up.”
Tragically, Greenwood and others were not able to help Bish, whose remains were discovered not far from her home in 2003. Almost 13 years later, Greenwood still shudders to think about Bish’s abduction and murder. She has returned to her mental-health practice full-time but said “a lot of really good things” resulted from her time with the Doe Network, including being tapped by NamUs for civilian training in using the official database. “I’m a do-gooder, and I feel like I’ve contributed,” she said.
She suggested that anyone with a strong stomach might enjoy the work. “It gives you something to do with your time and gives your life meaning,” she said. “If you can tolerate it, you can look at these different stories, and you can make a difference.”
Deborah Halber is a freelance writer and author of “The Skeleton Crew,’’ a book about the Web sleuth phenomenon coming from Simon & Schuster in 2014. She can be reached at email@example.com.