DNA Database Helps Identify Missing Persons

NamUs holds the second annual Missing in North Texas Day

Helping families find their missing loved ones was the focus of the second annual Missing in North Texas Day.

The event took place at the UNT Health Sciences Center in Fort Worth.

It is hosted by NaMus -- the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System -- whose goal is to solve missing persons cases nationwide.

NaMus invited families with missing persons cases to provide their DNA samples, so that they can enter them into a national database in hopes of finding their loved one.

"DNA has been an incredible tool for resolving missing and unidentified cases. We have seen that date back into the 1950s, so I think that is one of the most important things for families to know is that it is absolutely never too late for them to get answers, B.J. Spamer, executive director of operations for NaMus, said. "If they have a missing loved one and they can provide their DNA samples, we could potentially bring them some answers in their case."

Organizers said , although it is difficult, and often times emotional, for families to come forward, it is critical in order to solve the over 80,000 missing persons cases nationwide.

"In Texas alone missing persons that are gone over a year number almost 1,300, so we have an enormous number of missing and unidentified persons cases in Texas," Spamer said. "So many so that some people have called it our nation's mass disaster."

There are over 14,000 unidentified individuals whose remains have been found but who have yet to have a DNA match in the system.

People who have family members who are missing are urged to contact NaMus via their website.

"It's a silent disaster because most people, if their lives haven't been touched by a missing loved one, they don't realize how many cases we have out there," Spamer said. "But having all of these cases in one national system is helping us to make those resolutions."

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