Dear NamUs Stakeholders,
As you are aware, the Department of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) is changing administrators for the first time since 2011. In April of 2021, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) awarded a contract to RTI International (RTI) to manage NamUs. I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to the entire NamUs stakeholder community for your patience and input as this transition progresses.
Over the past three months, NIJ has been working diligently with RTI and the University of North Texas, the previous NamUs administrator, to transition the overarching management of NamUs to RTI. In the coming months, the community will see several changes. I would like to share with you some of these changes.
- First, the Office of Justice Programs, of which NIJ is part, will assume daily oversight of all web management applications in NamUs 2.0 database. This will allow for the sustainable continuity of database services to the community regardless of which organization holds the contract.
- Second, those of you who work directly with the current NamUs Regional Program Specialists will soon see those same individuals as RTI employees. Their service as community support liaisons will continue. We appreciate the wealth of experience that these individuals have contributed to NamUs and we plan to retain them in that capacity.
- Third, to strengthen forensic services, we plan to enlist several forensic providers as formal NamUs partners. RTI is currently negotiating subcontracts and will announce them once they have established formal commitments. RTI is also in discussions with various public and private laboratories, especially those with CODIS units, as well as with various forensic consultants, to enlist their participation as potential NamUs partners. We expect that, by enlisting these partners, we will enhance program efficiencies and improve sample turnaround times. Furthermore, we will continue to pursue partnerships, both formal and informal, with industry, academia, other non-profit organizations, and state and federal agencies.
- Fourth, we recognize that advanced DNA technologies paired with forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) services have become a powerful tool for pushing investigations forward to case resolution. There are numerous NamUs cases that could benefit from such services, and RTI is currently working with various vendors who provide FGG services to develop a robust plan to integrate forensic genetic genealogy into future NamUs workflows and services.
As a final thought, I understand that behind every single case in the NamUs database are family members and loved ones of those who have gone missing or remain unidentified. We do not take our responsibility to them lightly, and we are ready to take on all challenges to bring them the answers they need and deserve. As we look forward to the future, NIJ will build upon the solid foundation already established and create an even stronger NamUs. We look forward to working with you to make that goal a reality.
National Institute of Justice
Director, Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences
-  This plan will align with the Department of Justice’s Interim Policy on Forensic Genetic Genealogical DNA Analysis and Searching (https://www.justice.gov/olp/page/file/1204386/download)
Welcome to the NamUs Website
The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) is a national information clearinghouse and resource center for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases across the United States. Watch the video introduction from Lucas Zarwell, Director, Office of Investigative and Forensic Services, NIJ to learn more.
600,000Individuals go missing every year
4,400Unidentified bodies are recovered each year
The Nation's Silent Mass Disaster
The sheer volume of missing and unidentified person cases poses one of the greatest challenges to agencies tasked with resolving these important cases.
Over 600,000 individuals go missing in the United States every year. Fortunately, many missing children and adults are quickly found, alive and well. However, tens of thousands of individuals remain missing for more than one year – what many agencies consider “cold cases”.
It is estimated that 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year, with approximately 1,000 of those bodies remaining unidentified after one year.
NamUs is a national information clearinghouse and resource center for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases across the United States. Funded and administered by the National Institute of Justice and managed through a contract with RTI International, all NamUs resources are provided at no cost to law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners, allied forensic professionals, and family members of missing persons.
Who Uses NamUs
NamUs connects law enforcement with tools and resources to resolve missing person cases, including state-of-the-art technology to securely store, share, and compare case information with other criminal justice professionals.
Medical Examiners & Coroners
NamUs provides technology and resources to resolve unidentified decedent cases across the country. The NamUs Analytical Division also assists with the location of family members for next of kin death notifications and DNA sample collections for comparison.
Families of Missing Persons
NamUs provides tools that empower family members of missing persons to enter and search case information, and connects families with criminal justice professionals to assist in the search for their missing loved ones.
NamUs 2.0 Technology
The NamUs database application fills the nation’s need for a unified, online, free, secure database for unidentified remains and missing persons records.
NamUs provides free forensic services, to include forensic odontology, fingerprint examination, forensic anthropology, and DNA analyses. Family DNA collection kits are also provided at no cost.
NamUs' seasoned staff consult on cases and support criminal justice efforts to drive resolution – all free of charge.
Training & Outreach
NamUs subject matter experts provide free training and perform direct outreach to families of the missing by coordinating Missing Person Day events with agencies across the country.
NamUs is working to close data gaps related to missing indigenous persons, and to ensure that every tribal law enforcement agency knows about and can use the NamUs program to help resolve cases. NamUs provides a tool for sharing and comparing case information across jurisdictional boundaries.
The Success of NamUs
[note 2] Medical Examiners And Coroners' Offices, 2004. Matthew J. Hickman, Ph.D., Kristen A. Hughes, M.P.A., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Kevin J. Strom, Ph.D., Jeri D. Ropero-Miller, Ph.D., DABFT, RTI International