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NIJ FY15 Using DNA Technology to Identify the Missing

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $2,238,750)

The large number of unidentified remains and unsolved missing persons cases has become a tremendous challenge for law enforcement agencies, medical examiners and coroners throughout the United States. Efforts to solve these missing persons cases are often hampered because many of the remains are buried without collecting a DNA sample. Family reference samples must be collected and samples from the unknown decedents retained and submitted to a qualified laboratory capable of performing nuclear DNA analysis, i.e., short tandem repeats (STRs), miniSTRs, Y chromosomal STR (Y-STRs) as well as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis. Eligible DNA profiles must be uploaded into the appropriate database of COOlS 7.0. The identification of an unknown decedent can help provide families with closure and law enforcement agencies with critical information to aid in a potential criminal investigation. The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) consists of the Laboratory for Molecular Identification and the Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology. For the past 12 years UNTCHI has been funded by NIJ to provide DNA technology for the analysis of unidentified human remains, family reference samples and direct reference samples. All eligible DNA profiles are entered into CODIS 7.0 and routinely searched at the local, state and national levels. Forensic anthropological examinations are also available to enhance identifications. Families with a missing loved one and the medicolegal community must be educated and encouraged to enter all relevant data into either the Missing Persons (MP) or the Unidentified Persons (UP) databases of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). In 2011, UNTCHI was awarded a grant (2011-MU-BX-K063) for the management and support of NamUs in order to promote its utilization and expansion of the MP and UP databases. Training and educational services are provided to the medicolegal community to increase awareness of the services provided by UNTCHI and NamUs. Since 2003 UNTCHI has received approximately 7,109 unidentified human decedent samples, 15,122 family reference samples, and 755 direct reference samples. UNTCHI has been responsible for approximately 1,612 associations that have resulted in the putative identification of an unknown decedent. Funding from Solicitation Number NIJ-2015-4055 will allow UNTCHI to continue providing these services throughout the United States to families with a missing loved one, law enforcement agencies, medical examiners and coroners. Over a 24 month period, UNTCHI has the capacity to analyze approximately 800 unidentified person samples and 1,500 family reference samples.

Date Created: September 21, 2015