A better cold-case database

June 13, 2018

By Jeff Carlton

DNA group with missing posters
 
A UNT Health Science Center team has upgraded and enhanced a national database for cold cases involving missing people and unidentified remains to offer more powerful investigative tools for criminal justice agencies and families searching for their loved ones.

Called NamUs 2.0, the improved website:

  • allows users access to all cases types and tools from a single dashboard
  • increases the likelihood of resolving cases through an updated case matching algorithm
  • provides faster and more complex search capabilities
  • improves mapping capabilities through precise satellite imagery
  • enhances overall system performance and response speed.

NamUs, or the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, is a clearinghouse and resource center for missing person cases, unidentified bodies, unidentified living individuals and unclaimed bodies. Based at UNT Health Science Center since 2011, it is managed by the UNT Center for Human Identification through a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Justice.

NamUs 2.0 replaces the existing NamUs databases, which were launched in 2007 and 2008.  Since then, NamUs has received more than 15,000 unidentified person cases and over 32,000 missing person cases. More than 3,000 of those unidentified person cases and more than 14,000 missing person cases have been resolved.

What makes NamUs unique is it allows access to the general public in addition to criminal justice personnel. Families and Internet sleuths have assisted in solving cases that had long gone cold.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind system,” said B.J. Spamer, Director of Forensic and Analytical Services for NamUs. “We have had tips from the public that have helped us close cases. And the improvements to the software and website will make our databases more effective and user-friendly.”

In addition to the databases, NamUs provides access to forensic services, training, and analytical and investigative support to criminal justice agencies tasked with locating missing persons and identifying remains. All NamUs resources are provided at no cost to law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners, allied forensic professionals, and family members of missing persons.

The release of NamUs 2.0 is the culmination of a software upgrade project guided by the National Institute of Justice; Lynley Dungan, Chief Information Officer at UNTHSC; and NamUs program leadership at UNTHSC.

“While the hard work has taken place over the last two years, we began planning for this project in 2013,” Dungan said. “It’s been a true example of teamwork among UNTHSC, NamUs and the National Institute of Justice.”


NamUs in action

For 30 years, Francine Frost’s family searched for answers. Then the NamUs program helped find some answers. Read more…

B3f0263.jpg
HSC researcher, colleagues investigate intersections of COVID-19, TB control and global economics among immigrant communities

By Sally Crocker  The world’s attention has been laser focused on COVID-19 for months, but the current pandemic isn’t an isolated problem threatening the health of communities, says one HSC public health researcher.   “Many other infectious diseases, like tuberculosis, share s...Read more

Aug 5, 2020

Dr. April Enard with students
TCOM grad creates scholarship to increase minorities in medicine  

By Steven Bartolotta Dr. April Enard knows the statistics are bad. In the United States, the percentage of active African American physicians is at a meager five percent. That's why Dr. Enard, a 2011 Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine alum, has made it her mission to change that figur...Read more

Aug 4, 2020

Dr. Joon Lee
HSC expert warns of possible increase in West Nile virus human cases

By Diane Smith West Nile virus activities in this year’s mosquito population are higher than 2016 when Tarrant County experienced 27 West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease cases, said Joon-Hak Lee, PhD, Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at The University of North Texas Health S...Read more

Aug 3, 2020

Rep. Charlie Geren Fc
50 Heroes: Rep. Charlie Geren 

Rep. Charlie Geren has championed HSC for almost two decades.  First elected to the Texas House of Representatives District 99 in November 2000, he has advocated tirelessly for the university, its students and programs, and the many benefits HSC brings to Fort Worth.  Rep. Geren ...Read more

Aug 3, 2020