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Solving Missing Persons Cases

NCJ Number
Date Published
Beth Pearsall, Danielle Weiss
Publication Series
This article describes the features and benefits of NamUs, the first national repository for missing persons and unidentified decedent records accessible to law enforcement agencies, medical examiners, coroners, and the public.
NamUs evolved from the need to improve access to critical information for those who can help solve missing persons and unidentified decedent cases. With an estimated 4,400 unidentified human remains cases every year and nearly 100,000 active missing persons cases on any given day, the Nation needed a central repository for case records. This need was met when the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) created NamUs. Public participation is a critical part of NamUs. Family members, friends, and colleagues can access and search the databases to help find missing loved ones. NamUs joins together families and all of the disciplines that may be involved in a missing persons case. In the past, the various disciplines working on a missing persons case told families to wait until they notified them when information was available. NamUs is an information source constantly available to the families of missing persons. Those who register as NamUs users can receive an automatic e-mail when case information has been updated. Thanks to partnerships across the country, NamUs now provides free forensic services. A network of anthropologists is available to help investigators and agencies that may not have these professionals on their staffs or access to such services. In addition, agencies may have free DNA testing through the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification to add to NamUs records and further improve the chances that a match will be found. NIJ also provides family reference-sample kits, at no charge, to any U.S. jurisdiction, so that family members‘ DNA can be collected safely and effectively. 6 notes
Date Created: November 23, 2009