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Emerging Forensic Identification Technologies: Heat Shock for Cold Cases

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2007
4 pages
This article discusses resources for emerging forensic identification technologies.
On any given day, there are as many as 100,000 active missing persons cases in the United States. Every year, tens of thousands of people vanish under suspicious circumstances. Viewed over a 20-year period, the number of missing persons can be estimated in the hundreds of thousands. More than 40,000 sets of human remains that cannot be identified through conventional means are held in the evidence rooms of medical examiners throughout the country. But only 6,000 of these cases, or 15 percent, have been entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. Locating and identifying missing persons remains one of the most challenging aspects of forensic investigation. Several Federal programs have implemented procedures, guidelines, law enforcement tools, and resources for solving missing persons cases. A few main programs are summarized, including Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), the National DNA Index System (NDIS), National Center for Missing Adults (NCMA), National Crime Information Center (NCIC), and Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). A newly-compiled cold case toolkit created by the National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law (NCSTL) at Stetson University of Law is an interactive component of the NCSTL Web site, and includes a series of links to cold case resources in the following categories: NIJ Resources, Law Enforcement Technology Used in Investigating Cold Cases, Police Department Web sites that Solicit Information from Visitors About Cold Cases, Cold Case Forms, Cold Case Investigation Training Opportunities, Psychological and Medical Resources for Families, Regional Cold Case Web Resources, General Cold Case Web Resources, and a Cold Case Bibliography. Each resource listed in the Cold Case Toolkit includes a direct Web site link, as well as information on the content of the resource and its applicability to solving cold cases. References

Date Published: April 1, 2007