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NamUs Now Providing Free DNA Testing and Anthropology Services for Missing and Unidentified Persons Cases

The National Institute of Justice, the research and development arm of the U.S. Department of Justice within the Office of Justice Programs, is providing free DNA testing services through its National Missing and Unidentified Persons System program.

Following an interruption in services, NIJ has partnered with Bode Technology and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Laboratory to provide DNA testing — which includes analyzing autosomal STRs, Y-chromosome STRs and mitochondrial DNA sequencing — and its subsequent upload into the Combined DNA Index System. For skeletal remains samples that require anthropological analysis prior to DNA testing, NIJ has reinstated anthropological analysis. NIJ is using services provided by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia.

DNA testing is a powerful tool for resolving missing and unidentified persons cases and the need for these services has never been greater.

“We are excited to provide this broad level of DNA expertise to coroners and medical examiners across the country,” said Nancy La Vigne, NIJ director. “By leveraging our partners’ decades of experience with human remains that are challenging to identify, we can provide the best possible service to the justice community by identifying victims and suspects, ultimately helping solve cold cases and bringing resolution to the families and loved ones of the missing and unidentified people across the country."

To ensure consistent and timely processing of cases, NIJ is implementing a new case submission process and DNA sample intake workflow that improves the efficiency, traceability, and transparency of accepted cases. Agencies can now expect an average 120-day turnaround time from case submission through testing, review, and upload into CODIS.

NamUs continues to provide free odontology services, fingerprint analysis, investigative genetic genealogy, tattoo database searches, anthropological support and analytical services. 

For more information on NamUs, including monthly updates on efforts to reduce the backlog of samples that require DNA processing, please contact your appropriate Regional Program Specialist.


Date Published: September 12, 2023