In some criminal cases, such as murder, the victim or the victim’s body will not necessarily be found. It is possible that the perpetrator was able to dispose of the other party successfully, but it is also possible that there was no crime in the first place. Courts consider both possibilities, and, if the prosecution chooses to move forward with the case, it will need to conclusively establish both the existence of the victim and the crime. In the absence of the most crucial evidence or witness that the victim represents, these tasks can be highly challenging.
Lacking direct information regarding the crime that has taken place, the prosecutor will have to rely on circumstantial evidence. It is possible to establish a sufficient body of proof that contradicts any reasonable theory that would not involve the crime taking place. For example, in the case of murder, the body may be missing. However, a murder weapon with blood on it and the presence of a fatal amount of blood with the same DNA in a location can conclusively establish that the crime has taken place.
With that said, if the perpetrator has been meticulous enough to conceal the victim or their body successfully, such conclusive evidence will likely not be available. With less definite proof, the defense will likely be able to construct any number of theories that can be challenging to contradict. As a result, it is incredibly challenging to secure a conviction in cases where the crime victim is missing. Rather than risk losing the case and granting the suspect the benefit of double jeopardy, many prosecutors will refuse to move forward with the case, waiting for the person to be discovered until the statute of limitations expires.