HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Pennsylvania currently ranks 10th in the nation for unsolved missing person cases and a new bill sitting on Gov. Wolf’s desk could help to change that.
House Bill 930, if signed into law, would require Pennsylvania State Police to submit DNA profiles of missing persons and unidentified bodies, no matter the age, to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS). Pennsylvania would become only the 11th state to make this a requirement for all reports.
The bill would require the DNA profile to come from clothing and/or items belonging to the reported missing person but could also require close biological DNA, from parents or siblings, for example, that would be entered into the database.
What is NAMUS?
NAMUS was launched in 2008 by the National Institute of Justice. It provides both law enforcement and families of missing persons access to a national database of records and services relating to missing and unidentified persons. The database, which can be utilized by law enforcement and members of the public for free, promotes information sharing, case management, automatic matching tools and advanced searching tools.
In addition, NAMUS offers numerous law enforcement investigative services in an effort to resolve missing and unidentified decedent cases, including nuclear and mitochondrial DNA analysis, fingerprint analysis, forensic odontology services and anthropology services. In a new feature that was adopted in 2019, NAMUS now offers victim services to provide information and support to individuals and families impacted by the loss or disappearance of a loved one.
In America, more than 600,000 people are reported missing every year. reportedly, 10s of thousands of those cases go unsolved. It’s estimated that 4,400 unidentified bodies are found each year in the United State and roughly 1,000 of them remain unidentified after a full year.
The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Lynda Schlegel-Culver and Rep. David R. Miller. Senate passed the bill 47-7 and sent it to Gov. Wolf on January 18, 2022.