The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), through the NamUs program at the UNT Health Science Center, provides funding and support to the UNT Center for Human Identification’s (UNTCHI’s) Missing Persons Unit to perform nuclear DNA testing, including Y-STR, and mitochondrial DNA analyses for missing and unidentified person cases from across the country.
UNTCHI is a recognized ISO accredited CODIS laboratory, and one of a small number of laboratories capable of developing and uploading mitochondrial DNA profiles to CODIS.
Keep reading below for a list of Frequently Asked Questions related to DNA submissions and analyses.
Submitting DNA samples to UNTCHI
DNA samples related to a missing person or unidentified humans remains case can be submitted to UNTCHI at the mailing address listed below.
UNT Center for Human Identification
Attention: Evidence Custodian
CBH 6th Floor
3500 Camp Bowie Boulevard
Fort Worth, TX 76107
All samples should be submitted with appropriate UNTCHI submission paperwork, which can be downloaded below:
- Family Reference Sample Paperwork
- Direct Reference Sample Paperwork
- Unidentified Human Remains Sample Paperwork
- Unidentified Living Person Sample Paperwork
- Forensic Evidence Submission Paperwork
If you have questions or need further assistance with a DNA collection or submission, contact the UNTCHI Missing Persons Unit:
Evidence Custodian Phone Numbers:
Phone: 817-735-0606 | 1-800-763-3147 (toll free)
Fax: 817-735-0553 | 1-800-221-3515 (toll free)
Evidence Custodian Email: [email protected]
Missing Persons Email: MissingPerson[email protected]
CODIS Administrator Email: [email protected]
Family Reference Samples
Family members of missing persons are asked to provide DNA samples that are profiled and uploaded to the National DNA Index System, in an effort to locate missing persons through DNA database searches. These samples, known as Family Reference Samples, are voluntary DNA submissions that are used only in the search for a missing loved one.
The National DNA Index System, or NDIS, is part of the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). NDIS contains profiles contributed from federal, state, and local participating DNA laboratories across the country. The DNA profiles uploaded to NDIS are organized into indices, such as the Convicted Offender index. Direct profiles from a missing person, which are derived from items such as toothbrushes or tissue samples, are uploaded to the Missing Person index of CODIS. Profiles for unidentified decedents are uploaded to the Unidentified Human index of CODIS. Profiles from family members are uploaded to the Relatives of Missing Persons Index.
Individuals who provide Family Reference Samples in an effort to locate a missing loved one will have their DNA profiles uploaded to the Relatives of Missing Persons index of CODIS, which is searched only against the Unidentified Human index of CODIS. Family reference profiles are notsearched against any of the criminal indices, such as those containing profiles of convicted offenders or unknown suspects.
A family member cannot collect or submit his/her own DNA sample for profiling and upload to CODIS. All samples must be collected by criminal justice personnel who verify the DNA donors' identity, collect the samples, and submit samples to the UNT Center for Human Identification under proper chain of custody. The UNT Center for Human Identification DNA collection kit includes all necessary submission paperwork, including the chain of custody.
A Family Reference Sample must be collected by a law enforcement officer, medical examiner, coroner, or other medicolegal investigator employed by a criminal justice agency. Samples submitted to the UNT Center for Human Identification can be collected utilizing a prepackaged collection kit that can be obtained through a NamUs Regional System Administrator or by calling 1-855-626-7600. Please note that these kits are specific to the UNT Center for Human Identification's DNA laboratory and should not be used for other purposes. If another laboratory will be utilized, please contact that agency for instructions, submission paperwork, and/or collection kits that are specific to their laboratory.
First-degree relatives (parent, full sibling, or child) are most beneficial for Short Tandem Repeat (STR) DNA comparisons. Second-degree relatives (half-sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent, etc.) may be useful for limited STR comparisons, as well as for Y-STR or mitochondrial DNA comparisons; however, first-order relatives are always preferred when available.
In order for proper searching to take place in CODIS, and for potential associations to be identified, DNA profiles from at least two family members should be collected for every missing person case. If no first-degree relatives are available, additional family reference collections may be required. If you have questions regarding DNA collections in a particular case, contact your NamUs Regional System Administrator or the NamUs toll-free line at 1-855-626-7600.
Processing time varies depending upon the volume of samples received by the laboratory at any given time; therefore, it is not possible to provide a standard turn-around time on family reference DNA samples processed by the UNT Center for Human Identification. Updates on specific cases may be requested by the submitting agency by contacting the Laboratory for Molecular Identification's Technical Leader, Dixie Peters, at 817-735-2749.
Muestras de restos humanos no identificados
Los restos carbonizados pueden examinarse caso por caso. Para una consulta de caso, comuníquese con el líder técnico del Laboratorio de Identificación Molecular, Dixie Peters, en 817-735-2749.
Si hay suficiente muestra disponible para volver a realizar la prueba, el Centro de Identificación Humana de la UNT puede analizar una muestra que se haya analizado previamente en otro laboratorio. Se recomienda que la agencia investigadora se comunique con el líder técnico del Laboratorio de Identificación Molecular, Dixie Peters, al 817-735-2749 para una consulta antes de la presentación.
El tiempo de procesamiento varía según el estado de los restos, cuántos intentos se requieren para extraer el ADN de una muestra en particular y el volumen de muestras recibidas por el laboratorio en un momento dado. Por estas razones, no es posible proporcionar un tiempo de respuesta estándar para las muestras de restos no identificados procesadas por el Centro de Identificación Humana de la UNT. La agencia remitente puede solicitar actualizaciones sobre casos específicos comunicándose con el líder técnico del Laboratorio de Identificación Molecular, Dixie Peters, en 817-735-2749.