The following message has been circulating:
Due to funding limitations and significant program modifications directed by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), beginning January 1, 2021, the UNT Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) management and operation of the National Missing and Unidentified Person System (NamUs) will cease. UNTCHI will no longer be able to support NamUs stakeholders with any analytical or case support; victim services; system development; or new forensic services. The forensic services include: DNA typing (currently suspended), fingerprint examination, forensic odontology, and forensic anthropology (currently suspended). Effective immediately, NamUs will also be unable to support states that have passed legislation mandating the use of NamUs, including bulk data import needs.
UNTCHI at the University of North Texas Health Science Center has been proud to manage NamUs through a cooperative agreement with NIJ since October 1, 2011. However, despite our best efforts over the past several months to reach a sustainable solution, the sweeping program changes being mandated by NIJ at this time make it untenable for UNTCHI to continue management of NamUs.
We deeply regret the negative impact this situation will have on the thousands of NamUs criminal justice and public customers and stakeholders across the country. NamUs is the only program of its kind in existence, and we hope the program can continue its important work for agencies and families nationwide.
We will provide more information as it becomes available.
My interpretation of the message is that while the NamUs missing and unidentified persons database will still exist, its activities, in terms of solving cases by doing DNA matches etc., will be greatly curtailed starting the first day of 2021. This is only my interpretation, though, and I don’t know anything more than what’s in the message above, so don’t just assume I’m right and don’t ask me anything.
[UPDATE: The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification has issued a statement as well.]
Obviously this is a crushing blow for families of the missing and those who are trying to solve missing and unidentified persons cases all over the country. All I can do is suggest we all contact our elected representatives in Congress and beg them to do something to save this valuable program.
(Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past several days. The wifi at my house kicked it on Tuesday night and only just got restored. I could use data on my cell phone but not my computer. Also I am still in Facebook jail so I can’t post about this NamUs issue on the Charley Project Facebook page.)