Unidentified Human Remains
Accurate forensic identification is a continuing problem confronting death investigators, medical examiners, coroners, victims' families, and the law enforcement community. The growing problem of unidentified decedents in the custody of various jurisdictions in the United States and abroad is staggering. Many of these individuals have remained unidentified for decades. It is believed that the majority of these cases are the result of homicides, many of which have been relegated to cold cases for simple lack of identification of the remains. Lacking identification, investigators have no victimology with which to pursue the perpetrator. As a result, those responsible for the deaths not only elude justice but also remain free to commit other crimes.
Many forensic identification experts estimate the number of unidentified dead in the United States to be between 40,000 and 60,000. Of these, only 7,240 have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Unidentified Persons Database as of August 31, 2009. These represent only about 12% of the unidentified remains believed to exist.
Matching unidentified remains with missing persons using NCIC databases has a dismal record of success due largely to the few entries having DNA and dental records attached. In addition, it is believed that many cases are entered improperly in the system through clerical error, improper coding, or simply have incorrect or incomplete information.
The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) database has met with greater success than NCIC, but entry into the system is still voluntary.
Dr. Snow served on the National Registry of Unidentified and Missing Persons Working Group and is passionate about identifying the dead. He has worked with many law enforcement agencies and medical examiners and has provided identifications to numerous unidentified remains and helped close cold cases that were unsolved for years.
"Without Dr. Snow's expertise I feel we would have not been able to identify our victim. His expertise speaks for itself but his devotion to identifying the victims is nothing short of amazing." Detective Rich Lewis, Albuquerque Police Department
Cold Case Unit