Tag Archives | United States

Names, the missing matched on NamUs

National system open to families, investigators
By Jim Balloch

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, is the first national system designed to compare information about unidentified remains with missing persons cases.

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.

To read the article, go to http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2009/jul/19/names-the-missing-matched/

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New missing persons database NamUs starts solving cases

Good article highlighting the benefits of NamUs.  If you have a missing loved one, I highly suggest you create a profile for them on NamUs.


NamUs Website

Karen, a homemaker and mother of two from Indiana, has long had trouble falling asleep. About five years ago, to help herself wind down, she started going through missing persons sites on the Web, trying to match a person who had vanished with a John or Jane Doe whose remains had been found but whose name still remained a mystery.

When she started her informal cure for insomnia, Karen had to switch back and forth between an array of various sites – those that had information on missing persons, and those that had information on unidentified remains.

As of this year, Karen didn’t have to switch back and forth anymore. The National Forensic Science Technology Center, which is located in Largo, launched the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs. It contains two databases – one for unidentified remains and one for missing persons – and search engines the general public can use to find a match.

Last month, Karen got a hit on the system, according to officials with the technology center.

In the unidentified remains database, she spotted a sketch of a facial reconstruction performed after a woman’s skeletal remains turned up some five years ago, outside Albuquerque, N.M.

Then she started going through the missing persons database and matched the sketch with the photograph of Sonia Lente, a 44-year-old Native American, who was last seen in the company of a man two years earlier, leaving a bar within city limits.

NamUs, which costs a little more than $4 million and is funded by the National Institute of Justice, solves a few problems, said Kevin Lothridge, chief executive officer for the technology center.

Perhaps most importantly, it centralizes into a single national database information that typically has been scattered among different states and jurisdictions. That allowed a cyber sleuth like Karen to make a match in a missing persons case on the other side of the country.

It is also what Lothridge calls “public addressable,” which means members of the public can access the database and conduct searches, much in the same way they do on Google or Craigslist. Historically, only law enforcement agencies had access to crime-solving databases, and with some databases that is still the case, such as those containing fingerprints and DNA.

Anyone who wants to create a profile of a loved one on NamUs can do so, and the information entered can be anything that identifies someone – a family photograph, a picture of a tattoo, the serial number on a breast implant, dental records, prosthetic devices, jewelry or clothing. The better the information, the stronger the strength of the missing person’s profile, he said.

For example, Jennifer Kesse – who was abducted in Orlando in 2006 and hasn’t been seen since — has an exceptionally strong missing person’s profile, with a score of 5, the highest attainable.

On it her father has noted her eye color can change from green to blue, depending on the kind of contact lenses she is wearing, and that she has a tattoo of a four-leaf clover on her left hip at the panty line. Her profile also has her dental records and notes her DNA is available.

A missing person’s profile is not automatically posted; rather, it is flagged. Then one of the program’s seven regional administrators the country can check with the law enforcement agency handling the missing person’s case to make sure the profile is legitimate, Lothridge said. Once that step is taken, the profile goes online.

Once it is online, a family member – or a cyber sleuth like Karen – can start conducting searches on the site. If, for instance, a mother knows her daughter had a tattoo of a clover leaf on the small of her back, she can conduct a query to see if anyone has turned up who had the same type of tattoo.

“No one wants to find them more than a family member,” said Billy Young, the NamUs coordinator.

If the family member or cyber sleuth thinks he or she has a match, she can then call the regional administrator or the appropriate law enforcement agency and suggest they take the next step – take a look at fingerprints or DNA, if they are available, to see if the presumed match can be corroborated, Lothridge said.

NamUs has odontologists throughout the country to compare dental records. If the DNA of a loved one isn’t immediately available, NamUs will work to get it, perhaps off the missing person’s toothbrush, through an arrangement with the University of North Texas. The university sends kits to the law enforcement agency in charge of the missing person’s case, and an investigator or technician tries to get a DNA sample for the database.

Karen got her match through hardcore sleuthing, but this month NamUs started a program that automatically cross-references information from the missing persons database with information in the unidentified remains database.

The hope is that, as time goes on, more and more cases involving missing persons and unidentified remains will be entered into NamUs. In the United States, there are an estimated 100,000 active missing cases, and more than 40,000 cases involving unidentified remains, according to the technology center.

By comparison, there were only 4,951 unidentified persons entered into NamUs as of May, 2009, and only 1,497 missing persons.

To read the entire article, go to


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South Florida Residents You’re Invited to a Candlelight Vigil and Silent March for Lily Aramburo

Join us May 31st at 6pm in Coconut Grove!

Join us May 31st at 6pm in Coconut Grove!

Sunday May 31st, the South Florida community is invited to attend a candlelight vigil and silent march in memory of Lilly Aramburo, a young mother missing from Miami since 2007. Beginning at 6pm (Eastern time), Lilly Aramburo’s mother, Lucely will lead the crowd in a Justice for Lilly silent march in front of the house it is believed Lily may have lost her life.

The purpose of the silent demonstration is to grab the public’s attention for a short time on the two year anniversary of Lilly’s disappearance to make everyone aware that Lilly is still missing, and we are still looking for answers. There are many missing persons in South Florida and thousands across the country. We are remembering them and their families on this occasion. Anyone with a missing loved one is urged to attend the event and bring a photo or flyer to share.
What: Justice for Lily Candlelight Vigil and Silent March
When: Sunday May 31st at 6pm
Where: 3440 Percival Ave Coconut Grove, FL 33133 Map
Why: It’s been exactly 2 years since Lilly vanished. We need to find Lilly and we need the person(s) responsible to be brought to justice!
Family and friends will peacefully deliver a powerful message to Miami Dade Police Department that Lilly deserves justice, she deserves to be found. Lilly has not been forgotten by her family and friends and she shouldn’t be forgotten by the community where she lived. We’d like to see Miami Dade Police take meaningful action. Please show your support by joining Lilly’s family and friends as we hit the streets to demand JUSTICE FOR LILLY!

I realize few of you live in the Miami area, if you are unable to be there in person, we ask you to have Lilly in your thoughts and prayers while the vigil is going on. Please join us in spirit by lighting a candle for Lily (where ever you are). But to those who live in South Florida, we’d love the chance to see you in person to thank you for your support and commitment to finding Lilly these past 2 years. Although it will be a very hard day for all of us, spending it together will help us heal in a small way.

Visitors are welcome to bring a candle to light for Lilly but it is not required. Please RSVP via Facebook or if you’re on Twitter, you can RSVP here:

Media is encouraged to attend.


The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)

The Justice Department has unveiled a computer database that will help families locate the bodies of lost loved ones.  Families, law enforcement agencies, medical examiners and coroners, victim advocates, and the general public are encouraged to register their missing loved ones with The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), the first national repository for missing persons and unidentified decedent records.

Read more about NamUs in the article below by CBS’ Erin Moriarty called “Justice Dept. Service Is Designed To Help Relatives Find Missing Loved Ones”


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