|| Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
Harvey P. Pratt
Public Information Director
10/29/10 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Statewide Effort to Solve Missing Person's Cases
On any given day, as many as 100,000 active missing person cases go unsolved in the United States. Medical examiners and coroners throughout the country have more than 40,000 sets of human remains that cannot be identified through conventional means. The number of missing and unidentified persons represents our country’s silent mass disaster1 .
The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office has created an Unidentified Remains Unit in an effort to identify approximately 200 individuals who have been found deceased in Oklahoma and remain unidentified. Many of the remains are skeletal and were discovered during the last several decades.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) and Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) are assisting the State Medical Examiner’s Office, families, and law enforcement agencies across the state to resolve decades of missing and unidentified person cases. By partnering with the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) and with the support of the National Missing & Unidentified Person System (NamUs) administered by the National Institute of Justice, the Oklahoma DOC and OSBI are using the latest DNA technologies and databases to resolve these missing and unidentified person cases. The UNTCHI and NamUs are both funded by the National Institute of Justice, allowing all resources to be provided throughout the state at no cost.
UNTCHI has an impressive record of assisting agencies, families, and victims across the nation. It already has more than 1,600 DNA profiles of unidentified decedents found across the country, some of which could be missing Oklahomans. Hundreds of missing persons have been identified through the DNA analyses conducted at UNTCHI, and there is no doubt that the Oklahoma DOC and OSBI program will bring resolution to many more families of missing loved ones. More information on the UNTCHI can be found at www.untfsu.com.
Any family member of a missing person, regardless of the location or length of time a family member has been missing, may contact either the OSBI at 800-522-8017 or visit www.untfsu.com for further information. Family members unable to file a missing person report with a local jurisdiction in Oklahoma may contact their nearest OSBI office for further assistance.
Families are also encouraged to register their missing loved ones with NamUs by visiting www.namus.gov. The OSBI will coordinate with law enforcement agencies throughout the state to ensure that missing persons are entered into NamUs and DNA samples are entered into the National Missing Persons DNA Database, also known as CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).
1 Ritter, Nancy, “Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains: The Nation’s Silent Mass Disaster”, NIJ Journal No. 256 (January 2007).