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Lost but Not Forgotten: Finding the Nation's Missing

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2017
10 pages
Publication Series
This article from NIJ (National Institute of Justice) Journal 279 reports on the history, successes, and future plans for NamUs, which was established in 2007 as NIJ's National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), which is a repository and resource center for the nation's missing and unidentified persons.
Housed in NIJ's Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences, NamUs is a web-based system provided free to medical examiners, coroners, law enforcement officials, allied forensic professionals, families with lost love ones, the general public, and anyone else who is trying to resolve cases of missing and unidentified persons. NamUs is a permission-based system, meaning it provides both a publicly viewable area and a restricted criminal justice-sensitive environment that ensures the protection of privileged information. Since its founding, it has continued to expand the system. It has added a complementary database for unclaimed persons that includes deceased people who have been identified but for whom no next of kin has been located to claim them. As of February 2017, NamUs contains records for 12,813 missing persons, 11,335 unidentified persons, and 2,582 unclaimed persons; the number of cold cases continues to increase. NamUs has had numerous case resolutions over the years and has reunited lost loved ones with their families. New and developing technologies are incorporated by NamUs that enable medical examiners to capture an unidentified person's appearance. Some program successes are described. Some needs that NamUs aims to address in the future are described. 4 exhibits and 18 notes

Date Published: November 1, 2017