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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 5, 2021 03:54 PM
From: Representative Lynda Schlegel Culver and Rep. David R. Millard
To: All House members
Subject: National Missing and Unidentified Persons System ( NAMUS) Legislation
In the near future, we intend to introduce legislation that would require the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) to contribute forensic DNA profiles of missing persons and unidentified decedents to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.  In the United States, over 600,000 individuals are reported missing every year.  While many of these individuals are quickly located, tens of thousands remain missing for more than a year, leaving untold numbers of families and loved ones desperate for answers.  Sadly, Pennsylvania ranks 10th in the nation with respect to those missing persons cases that remain unsolved.  It is further estimated that 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year throughout this country, with approximately 1,000 of those bodies remaining unidentified after one year. 
NAMUS, which was launched in 2008 by the National Institute of Justice, 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 secure and centralized 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 to expedite case associations and resolutions.  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.  
To date, several states have enacted legislation mandating that law enforcement agencies submit DNA profiles of missing and unidentified persons to NAMUS, including New York, Tennessee, New Jersey and Connecticut.  The legislation we intend to introduce will require investigating law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples in missing persons cases from either the personal artifacts of the missing person or from close biological relatives and deliver these DNA samples to PSP for submission to NAMUS.  Similarly, this legislation will also require law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples from unidentified decedents and deliver the samples to PSP for submission to NAMUS. 
Please join us in co-sponsoring this legislation to better protect and serve our Commonwealth residents.  

Introduced as HB930