AMW gets hundreds of letters each month from viewers who are seeking justice. Often, AMW is their last hope and the letter they send us might be the most important they have ever written. Like each writer, every My Story is different. Yet they all share a common bond — the search for justice.
Funded by the U.S. Justice Department, it is available, free of charge, to law enforcement and the public, at www.namus.gov.
“This has the potential to truly revolutionize the handling of cases of missing persons and unidentified remains,” said Todd Matthews, the Southeast regional director for NamUs. “It is a huge step forward for investigators, and it gives the families and friends of missing persons a chance to become part of the process of finding their loved one.”
Victims’ families, police agencies, medical examiners, coroners and the general public can search for possible matches between missing persons and unidentified decedents.
To keep ongoing investigations secure, part of NamUs is set aside for law enforcement access only, so investigators can post and share information or details they do not wish made public, Matthews said.
NamUs has two databases: One has information about unidentified bodies, entered from medical examiners and coroners. It can be searched using characteristics such as sex, race, tattoos or other distinct body features, and dental information. The other contains information on missing persons cases.
Law enforcement users will have the ability to automatically cross-reference the two databases, reducing the time it takes an investigator to search them. If a close match is found, the investigator can turn to forensic services to conduct further testing, such as a dental records check or a DNA test.
NamUs only began taking records in January and is still in the growing stages. While the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, will have around 100,000 missing persons cases listed as “active” at any given time, NamUs currently has 1,828 such cases, plus cases of 5,329 unidentified human bodies, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Sheila Jerusalem. But 43 states and 225 law enforcement agencies have started participating, and more are expected to enroll as they become aware of the program, she said.
The News Sentinel asked the Justice Department when and if current cases in the NCIC database would be added to the NamUs system, but that information was not provided in time for inclusion in this series.
Who would you turn to if your loved one went missing? The Police? The mainstream media? If that was your answer you have a rude awakening coming to you. Police departments are either way too understaffed, un-educated or just focusing on high profile cases. If your missing loved one was over the age of 18, police may say they have every right to “disappear”. And the media, you can forget about it, unless your loved one falls into a certain category like Caylee Anthony or Natalie Hollaway, then you’re probably not going to have any luck getting any attention or help from them.
Thankfully, for 15 years there has been the National Center for Missing Adults. The NCMA is a division of the Nation’s Missing Children Organization, Inc. (NMCO) a 501c(3) non-profit organization, formally established after the passage of Kristen’s Law (H.R. 2780) by the United States Congress on October 26th, 2000. The NCMA operates as the national clearinghouse for missing adults, providing services and coordination between various government agencies, law enforcement, media, and families of missing adults. NCMA also maintains a national database of thousands of missing adults determined to be “endangered” or otherwise at-risk in the US. But not for long.
Since 2005, NCMA has been waiting for Congress to reauthorize Kristen’s Act to provide the funding so crucially needed to continue its work. Due to its failure, the country’s only national clearinghouse and missing adult database is in such extreme distress some believe only a miracle can save it.NCMA founder, Kym Pasqualini and her small staff of less than 5 volunteers, have kept the agency alive despite many difficulties including critical shortage and loss of funding, in 2006 they were
and going 2 years without pay and mounting debt, in order to continue providing services to those in need. Time is dangerously close to running out for NCMA. To make matters even graver still, Kym (a single mother) is facing eviction.
This doesn’t seem right to me. Not for anyone but especially not for Kym and the National Center for Missing Adults! The loss of the NCMA would mean no more support for families of the missing!
How can this happen?
Days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast region, Bureau of Justice Assistance; United States Department of Justice (DOJ) requested the immediate assistance of the National Center for Missing Adults. In the weeks following, NCMA received 13,502 reports related to Hurricane Katrina and Rita, in addition to cases normally registered with the agency involving missing adults who are determined by the investigating law enforcement agency to be “at risk” due to diminished mental capacity, physical disability, medical conditions, suspected foul play or suspicious circumstances of the disappearance. NCMA resolved 99.8% of all reports with costs to the agency in excess of $250,000 and depleted the agency’s non-federal reserve of funds. NCMA has only received $50,000 to cover the work they did at the request of the Dept. of Justice. The DOJ still hasn’t released the funds owed to the NCMA for their work related to Hurricane Katrina.
We cannot allow this valuable resource to die.
I feel strongly about this as my own friend, Lily Aramburo, went missing and has been gone for almost 2 years now. Following Lily’s disappearance, I contacted NCMA. Tanya, the volunteer who assisted us, was working from home on these cases because of the agency’s funding situation. Despite these obstacles, she was comforting, professional and understanding. She was steadfast in her efforts contacting law enforcement in order to get Lilly’s case confirmed and didn’t stop until she finally succeeded. I’ve had the privilege of working with Kym and her faithful team of volunteers. I admire them for their selfless efforts on behalf of our missing loved ones and the families who are left behind, searching for them.
My goal is to show Kym that people do care, we recognize their work is valuable. The NCMA doesn’t need to wait for a MIRACLE…
It’s within our power to save the National Center for Missing Adults. I urge you to stand with me and help in any way you possibly can. What can you do to help, you ask?
First and foremost they need money! Click on the FirstGiving fundraising widget below and visit my NCMA Fundraising Page Tax-deductible donations can be made online safely and securely through FirstGiving.
The NCMA accepts donations on their website as well. You can give as little as $5 using Google Checkout. Or if you prefer to send a check directly to NCMA, please mail to:
National Center for Missing Adults
PO Box 6389
Glendale, AZ 85312 US
If you commit to giving just $5 (the cost of a Starbucks coffee) we would be that much closer to achieving the goal.
If you can’t give money, no problem. Maybe someone you know can. Share this post via your email list and IM.
Do you use Twitter?
Follow the NCMA! Share this post and ask your friends and followers to retweet it (Join the NCMA RT RALLY starting NOW!).
Are you on Facebook, Myspace, Ning, or other social networking sites?
On Facebook, support the NCMA by setting your status to display a short message with a link to this post. Join the NCMA Facebook Group and invite everyone you know. Use your social networks to spread the word!
You can get your very own fundraising widget or badge to add on your profile and encourage others to do the same.
Don’t forget to bookmark, Stumble and share this post far and wide! RT on Twitter! Link to post! Get the widget, get the badge, share on your social networks and most importantly, GIVE GENEROUSLY & SPREAD THE WORD!