John Almendarez celebrated Father’s Day 2002 with his daughters and then vanished.
His teenage daughter Alice scoured her hometown of Houston and reported him missing to police. But her father was an adult. Maybe he wanted a new life, authorities said.
Alice never believed it. For 12 years, the mystery of his disappearance sharpened the pain of his absence.
In 2014, UNTHSC gave Alice the peace of mind she sought. The Center for Human Identification and its National Missing Persons and Unidentified Person System (NamUs) helped determine that her father had drowned in a Houston bayou. He was buried as a John Doe weeks after disappearing.
Though tragic, Alice was grateful to know the truth — and that her father did not abandon her.
Every day, the Center for Human Identification demonstrates UNTHSC’s drive to improve the human condition through a passion for teamwork and innovation. Led by Dr. Bruce Budowle, his team works tirelessly to deter human trafficking, give crime victims justice and resolution, and solve mysteries.
The Texas Legislature recently made a significant investment in UNTHSC and the Center for Human Identification with $15 million in biennium funding to enhance our efforts to address human trafficking and reduce the sexual assault kit backlog.
To accommodate this growth of services, the Center for Human Identification is hiring more people and expanding its laboratory space in the Center for BioHealth Building. The Center also is pursuing a number of important initiatives, such as:
No other Health Science Center is home to extraordinary programs like the Center for Human Identification and its full complement of anthropology and DNA services; access to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), the national DNA database system; research productivity and management of NamUs.
These combined capabilities play vital roles in helping UNTHSC fulfill its purpose to transform lives to improve the lives of others , such as Alice.
Dr. Michael R. Williams