Bode Technology, a provider of forensic DNA services, and the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) Forensic Laboratory have developed a program to help family members and investigators identify those who have gone missing. Since initiating the partnership in 2017, Bode and BPD have provided more than 20 putative identifications and entered more than 300 unidentified persons profiles into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Law enforcement agencies, medical examiners and coroners across the country can now work directly with Bode to identify missing persons or unidentified remains. The effort will also be expanding, as Bode has recently been named as a partner to provide forensic DNA testing as part of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) program.
It is estimated that there are more than 40,000 unidentified remains in the United States. Agencies seeking identifications can submit remains to Bode for testing. Bode then performs DNA analysis on the remains and sends the results to BPD for entry into the CODIS DNA Database. DNA profiles are then searched within the database at the local, state, and national levels against known profiles, evidentiary profiles, and family members of missing persons who have provided their DNA samples as references. Matches and potential associations to pedigree trees (family references), along with a statistical report, are generated and sent back to the submitting agency to investigate the case.
“Bode has a long history of providing advanced DNA testing on human remains to identify victims of crime, natural disasters, conflicts and other mass casualty events,” said Erin Sweeney, Vice President of Forensic Operations at Bode Technology. “We have more experience than any private laboratory in the country and continually advance our methods to obtain DNA results from remains that may be environmentally challenged and highly degraded.”
Bode has used their extensive experience to develop proprietary methods to obtain DNA from severely degraded remains. Originally developed during the testing of more than 20,000 remains from the World Trade Center attacks, Bode has since applied this technology to identify victims in plane crashes, natural disasters, missing migrants, and mass graves from international conflicts.
“We are incredibly proud to be a part of this effort and the impact our work is having on identifying unknown individuals and bringing closure to families,” said Ken Jones, Deputy Director of Analytical Sciences, Baltimore Police Department. “Through this work, we are also providing critical information in cold cases to law enforcement.”