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The Efforts To Find The Missing And Name The Unidentified


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Etan Patz on the "lost child" poster issued after his 1979 disappearance.

It boggles the mind – but some families in the United States have been trying to find their loved ones for years.

The families are searching for the missing and unidentified. According to FBI statistics, we’re talking about tens of thousands of people,  nationwide,  in any given year.

Joining us to remind us of the efforts that are being made to find the missing and unidentified is Mike Murphy.

For many years, Murphy was Clark County’s coroner. He’s now at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Mike is the organization’s Program Manager for the Long-term Missing.
"It's something that touched my heart and gave me an opportunity to, as I've talked about with others, find my emotion again," Murphy said, "As a police officer you burying those things very, very deeply."
Murphy said when he took over the coroner's office in 2003 he realized they needed to do more to help identify unidentified remains. When the coroner's office started to make that effort, it became a passion project for his staff as well. 
Murphy and his staff came up with the idea of, which originally started as a project just in Clark County; however, it was so successful here it became a national project.
"It is a webpage, where for the first time in the United States, families, coroner-medical examiners officers, law enforcement, the general public can put in cases and have the opportunity to share information," he said.
The website is a way to match up missing people with unidentified remains in an effort to provide answers to families, Murphy said.

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The original website had 167 cases of unidentified remains and of those 80 have been were identified.

Murphy said the success rate before the website was abysmal. He said if a body was not identified within the first 72 hours to two weeks, it was never identified, leaving family members to always wonder.

"Without it, I don't believe we would have seen those identifications," Murphy said.


Mike Murphy, Program Manager for the Long-term Missing at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in Alexandria, Virginia

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Dec 03, 2004