View Full Version : We can help

11-01-2005, 11:15 PM
There is a committee in the U.S. Department of Justice which is studying the issue of a National DNA database for missing persons. We can help here. Because it is going to cost money, there is going to need to be a lot of public support. We can let our senators, representives and other government officials know we support this issue. No family member should be denied the right to bury their loved one, and to know where that burial site is. No more families should have to walk that path of not knowing whether their loved one is dead or alive, just because their body was found in another part of the country.

Hamilton County Coroner Dr. O'dell Owens says one of the best ways to identify unknown bodies is to have a national missing persons DNA databank.

And as a member of a U.S. Department of Justice committee studying that issue, Owens said creating such a resource will be a top priority.

The databank would allow a direct relative of a missing person to provide a DNA sample. Then, when an unidentified body is found, DNA information could be fed into the database to enable search for a match.

"Right now, it's just one-to-one," Owens said. "We have to suspect a person is a match before making a comparison."

The only current national database of DNA samples is held by the FBI - and all of the people represented in it have been suspects in or convicted of crimes.

There's no DNA on file nationally for those with a clean criminal history.

11-02-2005, 05:40 AM
I had no idea there wasn't a national data base.

The linked story is even more disturbing:


Missing-person experts estimate that the bodies of 40,000 to 50,000 unidentified men, women and children have been found by police during the past 50 years. These John, Jane and Baby Does were sent to local coroners and medical examiners for examination and then anonymously buried or cremated.

Most are murder victims. But in what one expert calls "a silent crisis," the vast majority of unidentified bodies go unreported to state or federal authorities, according to a Scripps Howard News Service study of confidential FBI records.

Few states or local governments require that Doe cases be reported to any outside agency, and most coroners lack authority _ or even the necessary computer links _ to report directly to the FBI, the study found.

As a result, homicide detectives increasingly are overwhelmed with growing backlogs of cold cases involving nameless victims. And thousands of anxious families will wonder for generations what became of their lost loved ones.

Retired FBI executive Bill Hagmaier, now executive director of the International Homicide Investigators Association, said the failure to report tens of thousands of Doe cases is contributing to the rising percentage of unsolved murder cases. In 2003, the latest year for which records are available, only 62 percent of homicides were resolved, a 30-year low.

"We keep records on cars. We keep them on guns. But we don't keep records on unidentified people," Hagmaier said. "It's a national tragedy and a silent crisis."

It is not clear how many Doe cases are children. Experts will not even guess, although Nance said he's assembled a private database of 3,000 unidentified deceased children, of which "more than two-thirds" were not reported to the FBI.

11-02-2005, 01:09 PM
It is a huge problem, and is a lot of the reason why so many missing persons cases are never solved. If let's say a person is taken out of state, they very probably won't be identified. Because who would know to check that state for a missing person.
Currently if a body is found, it is up to that jurisdiction to decide whether or not to run DNA testing. Due to the cost, many opt not to test DNA. Then to top it off- due to burial costs, many unidentified remains are cremated- thus forever closing the door to ever identifying them.
If a National Database was formed and states required to test the DNA on remains, then when someone went missing, the family could give DNA evidence to the database. If and when an unidentified body was found, no matter where it was it could then be possibly matched.
Not all remains will have recoverable DNA, but this could solve many, many cases.

11-12-2005, 07:40 PM


11-12-2005, 07:51 PM
A lot of States don't activate DNA samples. Either it is because of funding or a don't give a Chit. If the person appears to be homeless or underpriviledged it goes away. The same thing is going on with serial killings of prostitutes and/or high risk lifestyles.

It isn't like when we are born we decide that all of the above will happen to us. We have a reasonable expectation of happiness then stuff happens.We don't expect to be molested when we are still in a crib and we don't think that we won't have the same educational opportunities as everyone else. I am not defending criminals at all I am seeking justice for people who have crime committed on them, without reasonable cause.

11-12-2005, 07:57 PM
is it possible to combine this thread with the similar one about skeleton remains that remain unidentifed??


11-12-2005, 10:54 PM
A lot of States don't activate DNA samples. Either it is because of funding or a don't give a Chit. If the person appears to be homeless or underpriviledged it goes away. The same thing is going on with serial killings of prostitutes and/or high risk lifestyles.

Oh my. You're all going to be furious when you read my upcoming series on this very topic. You'll be furious as to the injustice upon human beings, all because they were deemed "not worthy".

It's tragic. It's disgusting.

Yes, this thread should be merged with the other.


11-12-2005, 11:03 PM
Oh my. You're all going to be furious when you read my upcoming series on this very topic. You'll be furious as to the injustice upon human beings, all because they were deemed "not worthy".

It's tragic. It's disgusting.

Yes, this thread should be merged with the other.


Can't wait to read it.

11-13-2005, 02:56 PM
Josephs acknowledged her thanks to State Representative Harold James who made her aware of the extent of the missing person issue locally and nationally, and "our inadequate response." James told the crowd of 75, the authorities have "a wait and see" position because only a fraction of limited resources can be allocated to the problem.

"Communities must make the difference through organization and vigilance," James said.


11-14-2005, 10:11 AM
While I fully support this idea, I'm going to play devil's advocate for a second.

Suppose John Doe's daughter goes missing, and he provides a DNA sample for the sole purpose of comparison. Who else has access to this sample? Can Law Enforcement use it? Would it end up in a database where it could possibly be matched to an unknown sample taken from a crime victim, resulting in John Doe's arrest? Just a thought that I'm sure will come up by some groups.

11-14-2005, 10:57 AM
That question has already come up. It is my understanding that the current database held by the FBI, is kept separate from the criminal database. That is one of the issues they are trying to work with, how to prevent a missing person case from incriminating someone who has committed a different criminal act.

11-21-2005, 04:29 AM
FYI: I have started my series about this on my blog. It will get "better" every day, or perhaps I should say worse.


Yes, please combine the posts!

12-28-2005, 09:58 AM
In mid-2004, DNA research and a fledgling national database of DNA profiles made it possible to link the Alvarado bones to a 19-year-old Texas woman who had disappeared in 1982, more than a decade before her skeleton was discovered.
Authorities believe the same technology could help Philadelphia and other jurisdictions deal with some of their longest-running mysteries - thousands of unidentified human remains and tens of thousands of missing-person cases that have kept families in limbo for years.
Two recent cases have focused attention on Philadelphia's problems in this area. Two badly decomposed bodies lay unidentified in the city morgue for months - in one case, more than two years - at the same time that the respective families had filed missing-person reports with the Philadelphia Police Department and had tried to publicize their searches.
National authorities say there are similar problems throughout the country. To deal with them, support is developing for a strong national reporting system for missing persons, coupled with a national database of DNA profiles, covering unidentified remains, missing persons and their relatives.
"What's going on in Philadelphia is not an isolated situation," says Bill Hagmaier, a 24-year FBI veteran who heads the International Homicide Investigators Association, a Virginia-based group of police officers and prosecutors who deal with murder cases. "This is a silent crisis for the whole nation... . We have about 40,000 unidentified dead in the United States, and they are not getting the attention they deserve."
The Bush administration has committed $1 billion over five years to upgrade DNA testing at laboratories around the country and to promote its use throughout the criminal-justice system.
One component of "The President's DNA Initiative," announced in March 2003, is to "ensure that DNA forensic technology is used to its full potential to solve missing-persons cases and identify human remains."
A national DNA database, initially created by the FBI in 1998 to handle DNA samples from convicted criminals and crime scenes, has been expanded to include DNA profiles from unidentified remains, missing persons and relatives of missing persons.
So far, the expansion into missing-person cases has been slow.
The FBI has collected DNA profiles from 2.7 million convicted offenders and from 125,000 crime scenes, but as of this week the database includes DNA data from only 244 missing persons, 319 unidentified remains and 719 relatives of missing persons.
"The missing-persons part of the database is really in its infancy," said Dr. Tom Callaghan, the molecular biologist who is official "custodian" of the FBI's National DNA Index System.
So far, very little of the missing-persons data has come out of Pennsylvania.
The state police DNA laboratory, in Greensburg, Pa., has forwarded to the FBI just 16 DNA profiles of unidentified remains or missing persons. The laboratory director, Christine Tomsey, said it was possible that additional Pennsylvania profiles have made their way to the FBI through out-of-state labs.
At least 11 more Pennsylvania cases may be headed to the FBI database through Fort Worth, where the University of North Texas has established one of the nation's top DNA labs.
David Quain, chief investigator for the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office, said he was arranging to send tissue samples to the Fort Worth lab from three unidentified corpses discovered in Philadelphia over the past 14 months.
If that goes smoothly, Quain said, he'll follow up with eight more cases, going back to 2002. The service is free to the city, its costs covered by a federal grant to the University of North Texas.
The same DNA testing services are available to the Philadelphia Police Department to help with its missing-person cases.
But that list is so voluminous - 400 or 500 cases, according to Chief Inspector Joseph P. Fox, in charge of all the city detective divisions - that authorities would not know where to begin.
"The reality is for us, even to consider collecting the DNA from 500 cases would be a very, very time-consuming thing," Fox said. "If you thought the person was dead or had run into foul play, then you might think it was appropriate [to do a DNA test]... . But I would say the vast majority of them [the 500 missing-persons cases] are healthy and wise, wherever they are, of their own free will."
Texas has long been ahead of the curve in applying DNA research to missing-person cases.
In 2001, the Texas legislature allocated $665,000 to start a program at the University of North Texas - a missing-persons database that would include the results of DNA testing.
UNT's Health Science Center had already been using DNA analysis to run paternity tests and to screen for genetic diseases.
Under the new program, it began running DNA tests on unidentified human remains, the personal effects of missing persons, and tissue samples collected from the parents of missing persons.

01-08-2006, 03:13 PM
Its also an issue in Canada. I'm posting this for another take, from another country:
http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/story.html?id=c83fc63f-8278-4b02-a0dd-600b51eb5c4b&k=41716 (http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/story.html?id=c83fc63f-8278-4b02-a0dd-600b51eb5c4b&k=41716)

For Peterson, it's been a "very long and very painful" 12 years of searching for answers to her daughter's fate. Coroners in B.C. have assured her none of the unidentified human remains they have on record match Lindsey's statistics.

Peterson has given a sample of her blood to be profiled and compared with samples in B.C.'s provincial DNA databank, including those from the Pickton pig farm, where the remains of Vancouver prostitutes were found.

She has also uncovered what she considers to be a serious lapse in the country's DNA legislation.

While Canada has one of the world's most comprehensive DNA crime-solving databank programs, it does not have a national databank for the DNA of missing persons and their families. And the DNA Identification Act does not allow grieving families of missing persons to cross-reference their DNA with the more than 20,000 samples found at crime scenes across the country.

"I have the right to know if my daughter's remains are sitting unidentified in a coroner's office somewhere in Canada, and I have the right to know if her DNA is sitting unidentified in the national crime scene index," Peterson says.

"I deserve the comfort of knowing that if her remains are found that I will know. And Lindsey has the right to be identified, the right to justice and the right to a proper memorial service."

01-08-2006, 03:46 PM
The model legislation as being promoted in our Campaign for the Missing 2006, and slightly altered by me, covers this issue. DNA from UID's and also from either the missing person's family, or the person themself, will be entered in the database that already exists. As per my addition to the model, authorites must make documented attempts to locate the family AND provide the location of the remains.

01-08-2006, 04:17 PM
I believe that there should be a law that attempts should have to be made to recover DNA on all remains. And that if no recoverable DNA can be found, that cremation should not be permitted!
The reason I believe that is because 10-15 years ago, there was no such thing as DNA testing. Then when it was made possible, it was limited by the type of DNA. Then refinments were made and mitocondrial (sp) DNA was made possible. Who knows what the possibilities are for the future. But cremation could destroy that possibility.

01-08-2006, 04:56 PM
Cremation is NOT permitted in the model legislation.

In fact, here is the text from that that pertains to UID's:



(A) The [specify central state agency] shall provide information to local law enforcement agencies about
best practices for handling death scene investigations;
(B) The [specify central state agency] shall identify any publications or training opportunities that may be available to local law enforcement agencies or law enforcement officers concerning the handling of death
scene investigations.


(A) After performing any death scene investigation deemed appropriate under the circumstances, the official with custody of the human remains shall ensure that the human remains are delivered to [specify here appropriate coroner or medical examiner];
(B) Any person with custody of human remains that are not identified within 24 hours of discovery shall promptly notify the [specify central state agency] of the location of those remains;
(C) If the person with custody of remains cannot determine whether or not the remains found are human, it shall notify the [specify central state agency] of the existence of possible human remains.


(1) If the official with custody of the human remains is not a medical
examiner, the official shall promptly transfer the unidentified remains to
the [specify the medical examiner agency qualified to examine human
remains for the purpose of identification] with responsibility for seeking to
determine the identity of the human remains;
(2) Not withstanding any other action deemed appropriate for the handling of
the human remains, the medical examiner shall make reasonable attempts
to promptly identify human remains. These actions may include but not
are limited to obtaining:
(A) Photographs of the human remains (prior to an autopsy);
(B) Dental or skeletal X-rays;
(C) Photographs of items found with the human remains;
(D) Fingerprints from the remains (if possible);
(E) Sample[s] of tissue suitable for DNA typing (if possible);
(F) Sample[s] of whole bone and/or hair suitable for DNA typing;
(G) Any other information that may support identification efforts.

(3) No medical examiner or any other person shall, dispose of, or engage in
actions that will materially affect the unidentified human remains before
the medical examiner obtains

(A) Samples suitable for DNA identification, archiving;
(B) Photographs of the unidentified person/human remains; and
(C) All other appropriate steps for identification have been exhausted;

(4) Cremation of unidentified human remains is prohibited.
(5) The medical examiner, coroner, or the [agency designated by the central
state law enforcement agency] shall make reasonable efforts to obtain
prompt DNA analysis of biological samples, if the human remains have
not been identified by other means within 30 days.
(6) The medical examiner, coroner, or the [agency designated by the central
state law enforcement agency] shall seek support from appropriate State
and Federal agencies for human remains identification efforts. Such
support may include, but is not be limited to, available mitochondrial or
nuclear DNA testing, federal grants for DNA testing, or Federal grants for
crime laboratory or medical examiner office improvement;
(7) The [medical examiner or other agency designated by central state law
enforcement agency] shall promptly enter information in Federal and State
databases that can aid in the identification of missing person(s).
Information shall be entered into Federal databases as follows:

(A) Information for the National Crime Information Center within [X]hours;
(B) DNA profiles and information shall be entered into the National DNA Index System (NDIS) within five business days after the completion of the DNA analysis and procedures necessary for the entry of the DNA profile; and
(C) Information sought by the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program database as soon as practicable.

(8) If medical examiner office personnel do not input the data directly into the
Federal databases, the [specify the central state agency] shall consult with
the medical examiners office to ensure appropriate training of the data
entry personnel and the establishment of a quality assurance protocol for
ensuring the ongoing quality of data entered in the Federal and State
(9) Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted to preclude any medical examiner
office, the [central state law enforcement agency], or a local law
enforcement agency from pursuing other efforts to identify unidentified
human remains including efforts to publicize information, descriptions or
photographs that may aid in the identification of the unidentified remains,
allow family members to identify missing person(s), and seek to protect
the dignity of the missing person(s).
*(10) Agencies handling the remains of a missing person who is now deceased must notify the LE agency handling the missing person's case. Documented efforts must be made to locate family members of the deceased person to inform them of the death and location of the remains of their family member.

* Added by Project Jason

If you want to fight for this, then I suggest you join us in our campaign.

01-08-2006, 05:27 PM
Another reason why DNA needs to be tested on all unidentified remains found. This article was posted on a thread in the COLD CASE forum. The thread is about 2 unidentified boys found in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. The medical examiner got it wrong and said for years it was a boy and a girl.

I have no doubt this has happened in the U.S. too... don't you?

http://www.vancourier.com/issues03/082103/news/082103nn9.html (http://www.vancourier.com/issues03/082103/news/082103nn9.html)

Excerpt (Note Honeybourn is the investigator):

Investigators would have continued searching for a boy and a girl if, in 1998, Honeybourn hadn't enlisted the help of Dr. David Sweet, a dentist with the Bureau of Legal Dentistry at UBC. Sweet was able to extract pulp from the children's teeth, and DNA testing proved the Babes in the Woods were two boys. "I don't want to disrespect medical examiners, but that's not the only time I've seen this mistake happen," he said. "When I'm talking to young guys in the field, I tell them to always get DNA. It's the only way you can know for sure."