Louisville police last week collected DNA from cheek swabs of the son of a man missing for three years, says the Louisville Courier-Journal. “This gives you hope that maybe they have a body or they’ll find one somewhere,” says the missing man’s daughter-in-law. Police will announce plans today to start collecting DNA from the families of any missing person that want to participate. The FBI will check the samples against DNA from unidentified remains in a national computer database.
This is the first attempt by police in Kentucky to reach out to families of missing people for DNA samples. The FBI provides the collection kits, which cost about $5, and samples are taken by cheek swab or blood. State police list 626 Kentuckians as missing, including nearly 400 younger than 18. Federal investigators won’t cross-check DNA from missing persons’ relatives with samples from convicted felons or from crime scenes. The project, part of President Bush’s DNA Initiative, stemmed from problems identifying victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Law-enforcement officials have used DNA technology for nearly 20 years, but only recently have the methods become affordable enough for what the FBI is doing.