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Thread: Obstructions to matching the missing and UID -Q&A's/FAQ's only please!

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    Cubby is offline 50K reward, Bob Harrod-Missing: Call Det. Radomski 714-993-8176
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    Exclamation Obstructions to matching the missing and UID -Q&A's/FAQ's only please!

    So what keeps us from matching the missing and unidentified - in addition to not being in a database?

    Let's please try and keep this a Q&A' thread only- close to a non discussion thread as we can, please.

    I'm hoping Carlk' will give us a laymans example of:

    Dentals:
    How do they mistakingly rule out?

    DNA:
    How does Mitochondrial versus Nuclear compare when it is available in Codis?

    -What if the missing person only has Nuclear available and no mitochondrial available? What obstacles will ME have?


    Any other FAQ's for uid's and the missing please add.

    thanks,

    Cubby

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    I am cross-referencing my comment from another thread to here for general reference.

    I was pointing out as concisely as I could why it is that if they have only nuclear DNA on a missing person and only mitochondrial DNA on the UID (or vice versa), you still won't be able to make a valid comparison.

    The cases of Mindi Chambers and DoeNet Case 72UFTX are an example of two cases where authorities believe there is a match, but they cannot prove it because they only have mtDNA from the UID, and only nucDNA from paternal relatives. No maternal relatives are available to resolve this likely match.

    http://doenetwork.org/cases/72uftx.html
    http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/...ers_mindi.html

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlK90245 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Cubby View Post
    ... maybe CarlK can chime in, but I don't think nuclear and mitochondrial dna can be compared against each other. Carl?

    tia
    You are right, or at least that's the way I understand it. Nuclear DNA is entirely different from mitochondrial DNA, and you cannot compare the two against each other.

    The mitochondrion is a sub-microscopic organism that lives within a cell-wall, but outside of the cell's nucleus. It is not an inherent part of the person in whose cells it resides, and therefore, it has an entirely different DNA sequence from the DNA within the nucleus.

    Since sperm cells do not contain mitochondrial DNA and egg cells do, Mitochondrial DNA passes unchanged from mother to child, and it remains unchanged as the cells divide to form a human being.

    If there is a mtDNA match between two individuals, it doesn't necessarily mean that they have the same mother, or even the same maternal grandmother. It only means that the ancestral chain that connects the two persons to each other consists entirely of female ancestors.

    This connection may go five generations up your family tree and six generations down another branch (i.e., fifth cousins, six times removed), and if each link in that chain consists of female ancestors, the two persons will have identical mtDNA.

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    Cubby is offline 50K reward, Bob Harrod-Missing: Call Det. Radomski 714-993-8176
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    Thanks Carl, I did not mean to put you on the spot. I thought this might be a good area for FAQ's regarding obstacles such as DNA and dentals when it comes to official matches for the unidentfied.

    TY!

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    From a separate thread, addressed here to avoid going off-topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Julessleuther View Post
    Wow Carl, thank you for the information. Don't want to get off topic, but DNA is so confusing! Makes me wonder if some of the DNA entered for many UID is of one type, and DNA for missing is of another kind and therefore not able to be matched. Does that happen often?
    I was told by Hal Brown (from the Delaware State MedEx Office) that Family Reference Samples (FRS) are processed entirely by an automated system, and any nucDNA samples taken from maternal relatives are also processed for mtDNA.

    However, if only paternal relatives are available (e.g., Mindi Chambers), no mtDNA profile can be developed.

    Also, if the unidentified body is too badly degraded, they might not be able to extract nucDNA even if they are able to extract mtDNA. As I understand it, mtDNA is more resistant to degradation than nucDNA.

    Also, although it is often denied that there are known instances of false negatives in CODIS, I know of one instance where DNA was available in CODIS for both the MP and the UID, and a hit was not triggered.

    Dawn Renee Higdon of Ridgecrest CA went missing in Aug'88 and her skeletal remains were found in Jul'90 in San Bernadino County.

    Here is the link to info regarding Dawn (no info is available about the previously unidentified remains)
    http://forthelost.wordpress.com/2010...nty-two-years/

    These cases remained unmatched despite the existence of a single FRS from one of Dawn's relatives, and a DNA profile for the UID in CODIS. (I'm not sure whether they were nucDNA or mtDNA, or whether the single relative was maternal or paternal). It was only after additional relatives submitted FRS samples that a feature in CODIS called "Pedigree Tree" evaluated the multiple samples collectively and then was able to flag the match to the UID case.

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    Here is some additional info from David Van Norman in response to two questions that I posed to him. My questions were:

    (1) Is it a correct assumption that If only a mtDNA sample is available for a missing person, and only a nucDNA sample was available for the unidentified decedent, CODIS would not be able to identify the match?

    (2) If only one sample of familial nucDNA is available to compare to the nucDNA of the UID, is there a significant risk of a false negative?

    He responded as follows:
    Answer #1: Correct – nucDNA = apples and mtDNA = oranges! Or nucDNA is BluRay and mtDNA is VHS. The problem is California’s lab philosophy to develop nucDNA first (because it gives a higher confidence chance of a match and “positive” ID), whereas other labs go for mtDNA first.

    Answer #2: Correct – In fact if there is only one familial sample submitted for a missing case, so I am told by the folks at UNT, CODIS will not even bother comparing that profile against UHR due to the sheer volume of matches it will elicit. They require two or more to search. Sadly, they aren’t advertising that so cops who watch too much TV stupidly continue to submit just one family member when many are available. I had an LAPD detective tell me that they didn’t have to sample the mother of a missing man’s child since she contributed nothing to his DNA. Apparently he hadn’t heard about exclusionary samples. (PS – That child’s DNA was subsequently matched by a cold DNA hit to skeletal remains found after a fire near Griffith Park).

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    I was just going to ask this same question.What if there is no DNA for the missing person.So her sister put in CODIS her DNA for a match with a Jane Doe and her missing sister.I believe they would have gotten mtDNA from the sister right?My question please is will the Unidentified Jane Doe with only nucDNA show up a match with the sisters mtDNA as a CODIS match?I hope I explained that right.I'm sorry.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ms Suzanne View Post
    What if there is no DNA for the missing person. So her sister put in CODIS her DNA for a match with a Jane Doe and her missing sister. I believe they would have gotten mtDNA from the sister right?
    The standard practice is to get both nucDNA and mtDNA from the Family Reference Sample (FRS) submitted by the relative. However, with unidentified remains, both DNA types aren't always obtained. As VanNorman indicated above, different jurisdictions have different priorities.

    If the sister provides the only FRS for comparison, then a mtDNA comparison would be possible (assuming that she and the missing person have the same mother). However, according to VanNorman, CODIS requires more than one relative to submit DNA for the more definitive nucDNA comparison.

    However, a mtDNA hit only means that the two people compared are connected in the family tree by a continuous chain of female relatives. That connection may span over multiple generations, up one branch of the family tree and down another, and may involve distant relatives that the two people never knew.

    a nucDNA hit is more definitive, but you need more than one FRS to achieve statistically significant results.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ms Suzanne View Post
    My question please is will the Unidentified Jane Doe with only nucDNA show up a match with the sisters mtDNA as a CODIS match?
    No. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is entirely different from Nuclear DNA (nucDNA). mtDNA comes from sub-microscopic organisms within our cells called mitochondria. A mitochondrion is not an inherent part of the person in which it resides, and therefore, it has a completely different DNA sequence from the nucDNA that uniquely defines each person.

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    I'm stumbling through this and it is all new to me so please excuse my ignorance.

    Are you saying that NucDNA comes from the father or the males in the family?
    A parole review date is set for July 21, 2012 for Fred Howard Coffey.

    Coffey was convicted of the murder of 10 yr old Amanda Marie Ray, NC. He admitted to molesting 300 children.

    Please write a letter on behalf of Amanda.

    Suspect in the murders of:
    5 yr old Neely Smith, NC
    14 yr old Kathy Lynn Beatty, MD
    8 yr old Travis Shane King, VA

    Possibly connected to the disappearances of:
    14 Yr old Tracy Anne King, PA
    11 yr old Sheila and 13 yr old Katherine Lyons, MD
    15 yr old Carolyn Majane, NJ



    Write to:
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeannieC View Post
    I'm stumbling through this and it is all new to me so please excuse my ignorance.

    Are you saying that NucDNA comes from the father or the males in the family?
    No - nucDNA comes from both the father and the mother. Our nucDNA is an approximate 50-50 mix of the nucDNA from both parents.

    Mitochondria are also found in most of the cells of both males and females, including a female's egg cells. But they are virtually absent in a male's sperm cells. Consequently, mitochondria are passed to us only from our mothers, and the mtDNA taken from the mitochondria is not a 50-50 mix from both parents. It's a 100% duplicate of the mtDNA from the mother.

    I had said earlier that a mitochondrion is not an inherent part of the person in which it resides. To use an analogy, a mitochondrion is to the cell in which it resides, as a leech is to the whale on which it resides. A mitochondrion's DNA is different from the nuclear DNA of the host, just as a leech's nucDNA is different from the nucDNA of the whale.
    Last edited by CarlK90245; 09-01-2011 at 12:49 AM.

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    I have a question if someone knows the answer to.If you have an adult Unidentified male that has Partial (6) STR's and full mito profile recovered from remains and a little boy with only mito DNA on him.Can they find a relationship between them?I hope I said that right.
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    What kind of relationship? Do you mean if they're the same person? Since both have a mitochondrial DNA profile available they can be compared.

    If you're asking about a familial relationship they might be able to match the boy to adult males that he's maternally related to, that is, his brothers, sons of his maternal grandmother, but mitochondrial DNA can't be used to determine the adult male is the boy's father, for example.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ms Suzanne View Post
    I have a question if someone knows the answer to.If you have an adult Unidentified male that has Partial (6) STR's and full mito profile recovered from remains and a little boy with only mito DNA on him.Can they find a relationship between them?I hope I said that right.
    It depends on what their actual relationship is to each other. If they are brothers with a common mother, the mtDNA comparison will result positive. But it won't prove what their relationship is to each other. It only shows that they are linked by one or more female ancestors along the maternal line of their family trees. That common female ancestor could be a mother, maternal grandmother, or several generations above that.

    If the relationship is father/son, the mtDNA test will result negative.

    The partial STR is irrelevant in your hypothetical because they don't have nucDNA on the boy. Assuming that they had nucDNA on the boy, they could do a manual comparison, but CODIS requires a full 13 alleles in the STR profile, so they wouldn't be able to put the UID male in CODIS.
    Last edited by CarlK90245; 09-04-2011 at 02:36 PM.

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    Thank you.I was thinking Father and son.
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    One additional point, Ms Suzanne-IIRC Paternal/Y DNA mutates one in about 500. So it is possible for a boy to be related to a man, but the paternal DNA might indicate otherwise. Paternal DNA needs to be, usually, corroborated by a family history.

    http://dna.ancestry.com/learnMorePaternal.aspx
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarlK90245 View Post
    The cases of Mindi Chambers and DoeNet Case 72UFTX are an example of two cases where authorities believe there is a match, but they cannot prove it because they only have mtDNA from the UID, and only nucDNA from paternal relatives. No maternal relatives are available to resolve this likely match.

    http://doenetwork.org/cases/72uftx.html
    http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/...ers_mindi.html
    Thanks so much for this, CarlK, it was a very elegant, concise demystification of an otherwise complicated issue.

    In the case of Mindi, who looks to be an obvious match, can they not compare dentals..especially since Mindi would of at a min. had records from orthodontist?

    Another question that comes up consistently (and has resulted in rule outs) is height. Typically, UID's have a range provided (as in the case of the TX Jane) whereas MP have an exact number. I'll address this to the broader forum as I know we have lots of experts around

    1st Q: As I understand it, height is based on comparing measurements of specific bones with established height chart. Is this standard practice, or does it vary based on decomp? What is the general practice of ME when determining height?

    2nd Q: A recent doctor visit identified that my own medical records had me at a shorter height than I am (in my 30s, so obviously not a result of a growth spurt). I always assume a margin of error in a MP's height...but how does LE treat it? Are heights self reported by family, or are they based on medical records? Are medical records accessible to LE when investigating MP? Over the years, I have seen rule outs based on a difference of a few inches when otherwise the match looks good....

    Thanks!
    Last edited by kpdx; 10-06-2011 at 11:07 PM. Reason: spell correction
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpdx View Post
    In the case of Mindi, who looks to be an obvious match, can they not compare dentals..especially since Mindi would of at a min. had records from orthodontist?
    Either they were unable to obtain records from Mindi's orthodontist, or they were unable to locate the orthodontist at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by kpdx View Post
    1st Q: As I understand it, height is based on comparing measurements of specific bones with established height chart. Is this standard practice, or does it vary based on decomp? What is the general practice of ME when determining height?
    Normally, with skeletal remains, they compare the length of the femur (or other available long bone) to a height chart. The standard heights would also depend on the gender and race of the person.

    Quote Originally Posted by kpdx View Post
    2nd Q: A recent doctor visit identified that my own medical records had me at a shorter height than I am (in my 30s, so obviously not a result of a growth spurt). I always assume a margin of error in a MP's height...but how does LE treat it? Are heights self reported by family, or are they based on medical records? Are medical records accessible to LE when investigating MP? Over the years, I have seen rule outs based on a difference of a few inches when otherwise the match looks good....
    I suppose LE uses whatever is available. It could be medical records, or a driver's license, or if nothing else is available, an estimate provided by family.

    I hate to see rule-outs based on height, because I've seen many instances where after a person is identified, the UID height differed from the MP's listed height.

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    How does Namus determine if the strength of the profile or the probability for an ID is high or low? Do they only see if there are dentals, DNA and fingerprints on file?

    For example, this case is marked low probability
    https://identifyus.org/cases/9656 although it seems like a no-brainer because they found a driver's license with a name on it and there is a matching person missing in the area.
    http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/e/eakin_daniel.html

    They only found partial remains so there is not much identifying info in the bones themselves.

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    I was looking on NamUs and an UID was listed with almost no information. It just had race, date found and where found. No height, weight, age guess- nothing. Does that happen often, or is it a mistake? What do you do about this?
    I was trying to match a missing person up and I felt like a hit a brick wall. Newbie here so I am hoping this question is in the right place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by deca View Post
    I was looking on NamUs and an UID was listed with almost no information. It just had race, date found and where found. No height, weight, age guess- nothing. Does that happen often, or is it a mistake? What do you do about this?
    I was trying to match a missing person up and I felt like a hit a brick wall. Newbie here so I am hoping this question is in the right place.
    Correction- there was an age estimate- but hard to figure out anything when there is no height/weight, how old bones were etc.

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    I was watching the National Geographic channel last night, and they were doing a story about the famous National Geographic magazine cover photo of the Afghan Girl with the amazing green eyes, taken at a refugee camp in 1984. For years, the photographer who took that photo had wondered what became of the girl and went great lengths trying to find out what ever became of her. After showing the photo to people all over Pakistan and Afghanistan and encountering numerous false leads, he finally located her, married with children and living in Pakistan.

    To verify that they had located the same woman, they sent her photo to facial recognition experts at the FBI and the NCMEC, and by analyzing the detail in their irises, they verified with over a million-to-one probability that it was the same woman, despite the fact that her eyes seem to have darkened somewhat with age.



    In ruling out one of the false leads, the FBI facial recognition expert mentioned something that I thought to be relevant to our efforts. He said that 99% of the time, a small mole on someone's face will not disappear. It will remain there for life, or grow larger.

    He had originally pointed out a spot on the right side (her right, not ours) of the girl's upper lip, and didn't see a corresponding spot on her older photo. But after looking at other photos taken of the girl at the same time, it turned out to be just a spot of dirt on her face. But you can see other spots on her forehead and below the right corner of her mouth in the "then" photo that match up on her "now" photo.

    So we should keep this in mind when when comparing MP photos to UID postmortem photos. If you see even a tiny mole on the face of the MP that doesn't appear on the UID, you can be reasonably certain that it is a non-match. But you should be certain that it truly is a facial blemish, and not just a speck of dirt.
    Last edited by CarlK90245; 03-14-2012 at 02:03 PM.

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    I was reading some info about the large amount of open cases of MPs from the Yakima Indian Reservation and connected murder investigations from 80s-90s. The local newspaper used the Freedom of Information Act to acquire files from the FBI on the victims.

    Given the enormous amount of MPs reported to be in FBI files (39,000 according to LE in Snohomish County http://www.websleuths.com/forums/sho...t=64324&page=5) which is substantially larger than even those CarlK has diligently compiled, I am wondering if anyone has attempted to file a FOIA request to obtain the list FBI has given LE.

    I'm not well versed in this sort of process, but it seems like there is some kind of precedent.
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    I was speaking this morning with a detective who is quite involved with NamUs and CODIS, and he told me something about CODIS that I did not previously know.

    CODIS will not accept DNA profiles on a missing person unless that person is suspected of being a victim of a crime. However, NamUs will accept DNA profiles on all missing persons, as long as there is a MP report on file with a LE agency in the U.S..

    Missing children who are classified as runaways and persons who are believed to have disappeared voluntarily or as a result of an accident are not eligible for CODIS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Donjeta View Post
    How does Namus determine if the strength of the profile or the probability for an ID is high or low? Do they only see if there are dentals, DNA and fingerprints on file?

    For example, this case is marked low probability
    https://identifyus.org/cases/9656 although it seems like a no-brainer because they found a driver's license with a name on it and there is a matching person missing in the area.
    http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/e/eakin_daniel.html

    They only found partial remains so there is not much identifying info in the bones themselves.
    This UID now has a

    Complete mitochondrial DNA profile uploaded to NDIS. A partial (12/14) STR profile was uploaded to NDIS, and a complete LOW COPY STR profile is available at UNT for comparison. CL
    and the probability has been upgraded to medium.

    I don't know what the hold up is, the MP has had DNA tests taken.
    Sample submitted - Tests complete
    https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/9668/0/

    Was it not a match?

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    Both cases have been removed from Namus now so I guess it just took some time to compare the profiles.

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    I've been keeping a spreadsheet of all missing persons listed in Charley Project, plus cases in the other sites (NAMPN, DoeNet, and NamUs) that aren't in Charley. The spreadsheet includes basic info (e.g., gender, age, DLC, DOB, height, etc.), and includes about 13,000 names.

    This week, I've added an extra column to include the NamUs MP # for all MP cases from NamUs. I am in the process of reconciling those cases to the casefiles from other sites to determine which cases are in NamUs and not in other sites, and vice-versa.

    In doing so, I've discovered a very troubling problem. There is a very large number of instances where the Dates of Last Contact as indicated in NamUs don't agree with those listed in Charley and the other sites. I would guess that there are DLC discrepancies for about 10-20% of NamUs cases.

    For the more substantial discrepancies of several months or years, I've done further research to see which is correct (if possible). I found a few errors that were made by Meaghan at Charley Project, but for the vast majority of the discrepancies, the error was in NamUs. There is a very surprising number of instances where the MP Report Date was entered as the DLC.

    In most cases where I was able to conclusively prove which site was wrong, I sent out an e-mail to ask them to correct the error. But in cases where the difference was only a week or two, or cases where I couldn't determine who was wrong, I had to let it go, and used the earlier date on my spreadsheet. There are far too many errors to send out an e-mail for every error that I spot.

    So when entering search parameters in the NamUs UID database looking for matches to a specific MP, I suggest that you set your lower date limit for a month or two prior to the MP's Date of Last Contact ("Date LKA").

    ... or if your are entering search parameters in the NamUs MP database looking for a match to a specific UID, you should set the upper date limit for a few months after the UID was estimated to have died.

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