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Cases Associated with Violence in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs): The Examination of Circumstances & Characteristics Project

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2020
95 pages

Based on data analyses of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), this report presents the approach, findings, and recommendations of an effort to improve the response to and resolution of cases in the NamUs database in which violence is a contributing factor.


NamUs is administered by the U.S. Justice Department, serving as a centralized database and resource center for cases of missing, unidentified, and unclaimed persons. The database, which can be accessed at www.NamUs.gov, is available to law enforcement, medical examiners/coroners, allied professionals, and the public in the investigation of missing-person cases. In addition, NamUs provides funding for various forensic services (DNA, fingerprints, forensic odontology), analytical services, and victim services related to missing-person cases. Part I of this report is a general introduction to the NamUs program, an overview of violence and victimization, an explanation of victimization in the United States, and a description of the link between NamUs cases and the occurrence of violence and victimization. Part II focuses on missing persons cases within the NamUs database. Data from resolved identifications (archived) and unresolved (published) cases were used to complete a qualitative text-mining classification of cases as violent or nonviolent. Wider case information was then used to complete a descriptive analysis that compared violent and nonviolent cases across case characteristics. Part III uses data from 15,841 resolved (archived) and unresolved (published) cases to classify cases as violent or nonviolent based on determined manner of death and qualitative text mining. Part IV addresses database cases involving violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men. Part V presents a general conclusion regarding the work presented, and Part VI contains references used throughout the report. Appended details on project design and implementation

Date Published: December 1, 2020