- Event credited with eight identifications of missing persons nationwide since 2014 -
The Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) announced that it will host the third New York City Missing Persons Day on . This support event for the families and friends of missing persons has led to eight identifications of missing persons in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Texas since its launch in 2014.
New York City Missing Persons Day offers free services and resources for those coping with the experience of a long-term missing loved one (missing for 60 or more days). Attendees may voluntarily provide information, such as photos, personal histories and DNA reference samples, in confidential interviews with scientists and other professionals trained in family assistance. The information that is collected can be used to help find and identify missing persons in New York City and elsewhere.
“Families and friends of missing persons struggle every day with unresolved questions about their absent loved ones,” said Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson. “On New York City Missing Persons Day, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner convenes specialized resources to help those affected by the uniquely challenging experience of a missing loved one. As this effort grows, and with the generous assistance of our partners, we hope to continue making a difference for families seeking answers.”
Hundreds of families attended two previous New York City Missing Persons Day events in November 2014 and April 2016. To date, the events have led to the identification of eight missing and unidentified persons recovered in New York City; Nassau and Suffolk counties; Warren County, New Jersey; and Brooks County, Texas, primarily through DNA matches.
In the most recent identification, family members from Ossining, New York, attended New York City Missing Persons Day in search of their brother from Ecuador. The family provided DNA reference samples that subsequently matched through national databanks to the remains of a man recovered in the border regions of Texas. OCME, which is home to one of the country’s few DNA missing persons units, worked with the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office and the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification to confirm the identity of the man and notify his family.
More than 13,000 people were reported missing in New York City last year, with some, including at least 200 children, missing long term. Nationwide, there are more than 87,000 active missing persons cases, and thousands of unidentified persons in the custody of medical examiners’ offices. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has called the numbers of missing and unidentified persons in the United States “the nation’s silent mass disaster.”
While advances in identification technologies such as fingerprinting and DNA allow medical examiners to collect more information from unidentified persons, these unknown samples must be compared to known reference samples in order to confirm identifications. Missing persons day events have taken place in jurisdictions throughout the United States in recent years for the purpose of collecting this information from families and friends.
In addition to support services, New York City Missing Persons Day will also display forensic artwork created through an ongoing collaboration between OCME and the New York Academy of Art. The approximately 30 facial reconstructions of some of the coldest missing persons cases were made possible by a 3-D printer obtained with NIJ grant funding.
New York City Missing Persons Day is hosted by OCME, in partnership with the NYPD Missing Persons Unit, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, American Red Cross, Disaster Chaplaincy Services, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), and the Center for HOPE, with support from NIJ.
What: New York City Missing Persons Day
Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) – Hirsch Center for Forensic Sciences
421 East 26th Street (at 1st Avenue)
New York, NY 10016
Subway: 6 train to 23rd Street or 28th Street; Bus: M15, M23
Accessible facility. Accommodation requests appreciated in advance.
Who: All families and friends of long-term missing persons are welcome. RSVPs encouraged
by calling (212) 323-1201. Interpretation services are available. Visit
missingpersonsday for more information.
Established in 1918, OCME is the first governmental agency of its type in the United States and provides expert services across the range of forensic science disciplines. OCME operates the largest public crime DNA laboratory in the world, in addition to laboratories in toxicology and histology, and the nation’s only public molecular genetics laboratory. The agency is home to the country’s largest forensic pathology training program, having trained over 100 board-certified forensic pathologists since 1990. OCME also houses a department of forensic anthropology, and maintains a division of specially trained experts prepared to respond to any and all fatality events, no matter what hazards may be encountered during recovery.