Monday, November 21, 2005

11/21/05 Seeking the Missing Among the Dead

That's not exactly a "feel-good" headline, is it? It is, however, a reality for those of us who live in the not knowing and the waiting, always waiting. We don't want to look in that dark, frightening place, but we must. We must because for some of us, it is there that the answer awaits.

So, how does a person go about doing this?

There is an organization that has volunteers who compare John and Jane Does to missing person's case files, the Doe Network. There are also many websites that feature info about does, whom we'll refer to as UID. (Unidentified Deceased) Family members, friends, and other interested parties look through these sites, trying to find similarities.

You would think it would be an automated process and that there would be a central database, but there is not. With an estimated 40,000-50,000 UID in this country and growing, that is surprising. With the number of missing persons, that becomes even more alarming.

What happens to the UID's?

Would you be surprised to find out that there are no federal mandates in place for reporting the UID? Some jurisdictions do take care with these persons, and collect the data they should, but some do not. Some are buried in pauper's graves and some are cremated. If the latter applies, and they did not take samples suitable for DNA testing, how will we ever know who that person was in life? We won't, plain and simple.

What does that mean to us?

It means that we will live out the rest of our lives not knowing, when we could have known! It means that we continue to search with broken hearts when we should have known!

The first time I ever heard of problems with the system in regards to UID's, was with the case of a missing young man. He had been missing for 4 years from one state, and his body was found in another. The problem was that his body had been found only a couple of months after he disappeared. So, for close to 4 years, his family suffered and lived in the "not knowing" needlessly. How did this happen? The system that the UID was entered in, and the system that the missing young man was entered in, did not "see" the match. It took human intervention to find it, which in this case was completely accidental.

Only days ago, in the news, a similar tragedy played out in Philadelphia. A female UID was found in the same neighborhood as a missing woman, but yet no one checked the UID against the missing person cases. Her family waited and hoped for over 2 years. This, too, was another "accidental" discovery. Please read the entire story here:

Use and foo123 as your logon information. (Courtesy

Today I will begin a lengthy series exploring this topic. I'll share the stories of three families who have been effected by this, but in different ways than the examples above. The series will most likely run into next week. I will break for Thanksgiving and for the weekend, except for "Sundays of Hope". I will only interrupt the series if there is urgent news about another missing loved one.

Be prepared to be shocked about what takes place in the stories and to these families. I hope that you will be inspired to take action to do something to prevent this from happening. What if it was someone you love?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I truly wish I could do more!

6:00 PM  

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