Grieving family members, coroners, medical examiners and law enforcement agencies across the nation now have access to a powerful new tool that will help them search for information about missing loved ones.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced the launch of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons Initiative (NamUs), which is designed to provide officials and the general public with the ability to search the records of missing persons and unidentified human remains in order to solve cases.
Clark County Coroner P. Michael Murphy, who has spent the past five years serving on various national committees in an effort to bring NamUs to fruition, is thrilled with this initiative.
"When I accepted the post of Clark County Coroner in 2002, our office had a total of 182 John and Jane Doe cases. Immediately, I began to work with staff to create the Cold Case Unit task force to bring resolution to as many families as possible by positively identifying their loved ones," said Murphy. "To date, we have identified 30 people as a result of the task force."
The Cold Case Unit, which officially launched in November 2003, is comprised of two components. The first is this website. We hope that a loved one or friend may be looking for someone they know and see something on this site that may lead to their identification.
A second aspect of the task force includes a group of coroner investigators who consistently search cases and work with law enforcement and the public, in hopes of positively identifying a decedent and notifying next of kin.
The NamUs site initiative unites two programs and their online, searchable databases: IdentifyUs.org and Find-the-Missing.org.
"It's estimated that there are approximately 40,000 cases of unidentified decedents in the United States," said Murphy. "The County's grassroots approach has not only led to the identification of dozens of people, but it has also inspired other agencies in places such as Atlanta and Canada to create their own websites. And now, with the creation of NamUs, I expect that offices and organizations throughout the nation will be able to rapidly solve more cases. The goal is to bring as much resolution to as many families as possible."