Identifying individuals who are unidentified at the time they are found and returning them to their loved ones is a core goal of the Medical Examiner’s Office. Methods used to identify an individual may include visual identification, dental comparison, prior medical intervention, unique identifying marks and DNA. Unfortunately, there are times when an individual may remain unidentified. These remains are retained by the medical examiner office in a dignified manner until an identification is made.
If you believe that your family member or loved one is missing, please contact your local police department to file a missing persons report. Please make sure to have as much information as possible regarding the missing person, such as a physical description, circumstances surrounding the last time they were seen, and availability of dental records, medical records, or family members to provide DNA reference samples.
You can also register your missing loved one, with or without an official missing persons report, with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). NamUs is a free resource that allows you to enter a missing persons case which can then be reviewed by law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners, and other member of the criminal justice community throughout the country. NamUs also provides resources and information about how to provide family reference DNA samples to be compared with unidentified remains.
If the missing person was under the age of 18 at the time that they went missing, you can also contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) for additional resources.
If you have heard a news story about unidentified remains that have been located and would like to have your missing person compared to that specific case, please contact the local law enforcement or coroner’s office handling the unidentified remains case.