There are over 800,000 missing persons reports entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) every year. At any given time, there are over 80,000 active cases in the system. This is a huge burden on families and for law enforcement investigations. NCIC is run by the FBI and is only available to law enforcement.
There is another system that directly helps families of missing persons: The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs for short. It is the only system that not only allows access from the public, but it allows input as well. Any family member of a missing person is encouraged to enter the pedigree information of the missing as well as DNA, dental records, photographs and any other identifying marks such as tattoos, scars or medical replacements.
Funding for DNA has ended
I had the opportunity to speak with the Director of Case Management for NamUs, Todd Matthews on WRCN 103.9 FM Long Island News Radio. Mr. Matthews gave us an overview of missing persons cases and the latest developments. At the moment, funding for the DNA collection has run out. This effectively eliminated the free program for family members to have a DNA exemplar uploaded into the database. As you are aware, DNA is most often the identifying marker. Not only did this funding stop the free DNA program, but it also stopped the anthropological services outside of Texas.
The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification is working on solutions to the DNA exemplar program. Family members should frequent the UNTCHI website for updates on the funding.
Todd gave family members some suggestions they can do now while waiting for the DNA funding:
- Ensure that the case is added into NamUs
- Submit non-DNA exemplars: dental records, photographs, etc. into the system
Todd also had a word of advice for Law Enforcement and Medical Examiners: just because you have DNA, that doesn’t mean you don’t collect other identifying markers.
Listen to the interview:
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