Some relatives of missing people are pinning their hopes on genetic technology. says the Baltimore Sun. They are providing samples of their DNA to a national database so it can be compared with DNA from unidentified bodies across the country. “There are many families out there who are needlessly going without an identification and slipping further and further into a state of despair,” said George Adams of the University of North Texas System Center for Human Identification, which processes genetic information for the missing persons database.
More than 40,000 sets of unidentified remains sit in the offices of medical examiners and there are more than 100,000 open missing person cases across the U.S., Adams said. The FBI sponsors a national database of genetic information pertaining to these cases, the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which compares information from relatives of missing people to found remains. DNA has been collected from only a small fraction of relatives of missing persons, he said. The process of gathering it is quick and painless – a cheek swab – and the DNA is processed free at the University of North Texas, one of three labs approved by the FBI to update the CODIS database. “There is no backlog,” Adams said, noting that his lab does not receive enough samples to keep its robotic system occupied. “They should be coming in by the thousands.”