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Searching for the Missing in a City of Millions

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2019
3 pages
Publication Series
This article from the NIJ Journal of May 2019 reviews the history of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) efforts to improve the resolution of missing-person cases in New York City.
The article begins with a case study of a New York City woman's decades-long search for what happened to her brother, who was 20 years old when he vanished in 1972. Her search ended in 2014 due to her participation in the First Annual New York City Missing Persons Day, sponsored by the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner's (OCME's) missing persons unit. The event was being held in response to the significant and ongoing problem of missing persons in New York City. The woman joined 80 other people who came that day to the building of the OCME's DNA laboratory. Each person provided a DNA sample for a potential link to one of the thousands of missing persons' DNA profiles in the FBI's National DNA Index System (NDIS) and the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). In addition, the DNA samples were analyzed and entered into NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System established by NIJ to assist in finding persons who go missing in the United States. The woman was subsequently told by the OCME that "a strong kinship match" had been found between her and an unidentified man whose body was found in New Jersey in 1973. Two other missing-person cases were also resolved among those who attended that Missing Persons Day. An NIJ grant enabled the OCME to continue the Missing Persons Day, leading to more identifications of missing persons. An NIJ grant also led to the development of a missing persons kit that can be mailed to a family with a missing member.

Date Published: May 1, 2019