There are 100,000 people listed as “missing” on any given day in the United States, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), a national resource center that is part of the U.S. Department of Justice. There are also an estimated 40,000 unknown persons in the United States. Approximately 20 of those John, Jane, and Baby Doe cases were discovered in the Cincinnati area since 1970 and remain unidentified today. To raise awareness of these staggering statistics, Mount St. Joseph University, in cooperation with NamUs and several local law enforcement agencies, is hosting the Tri-State Missing and Unidentified Persons Awareness Day on Saturday, October 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the University’s Seton Center. The event is co-sponsored by the Mount's Campus Activities Board (CAB) and the School of Behavioral and Natural Sciences.
This free event is open to the public, law enforcement, high school and college students, and designed to honor and learn more about the missing persons and unknown dead of the tri-state area. Nationally known speakers will discuss processing and investigating missing person cases and attempts to identify unknown persons. In addition, the Mount’s police department will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to take children’s fingerprints for safekeeping for parents and to offer an up-close look at the inside of a police cruiser.
Visitors will learn how to prevent crimes such as abduction, and how to recognize the signs that someone is at risk of becoming a missing person. Hands-on displays will demonstrate a variety of types of forensic evidence, such as microscopic traces that could help investigators follow a trail of evidence.The Delhi Township Police Department K-9 unit will conduct a demonstration with their dog at 2:30 p.m.
“Our goal is to help people know what to do in the event that their lives unfortunately somehow intersect with a missing person investigation,” said Elizabeth Murray, Ph.D., forensic anthropologist and professor of biology at Mount St. Joseph University. “This is the kind of information you hope you never need, but it’s important to know in case a loved one or neighbor ever disappears. Learning more about how victims are identified will also help people understand the data that’s necessary to give a name to an unknown person.”
All-day family-friendly activities in and around Seton Center
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Mount St. Joseph Police Department (10-1) and Delhi Township Police Department (1-3) will offer free child fingerprinting for parents' safekeeping, tour police vehicles and visit with a K9 unit (1-3 p.m.).
Hands-on forensic science displays developed by students from the School of Behavioral and Natural Sciences, view posters about crime prevention and awareness, demonstration to honor missing persons from the tri-state area, register as a NamUs user and learn about the system.
Presentations (Not recommended for young children)
Morning Sessions in the Corona Room
10:20-10:30 a.m. Welcome remarks and overview of activities
10:30-11:15 a.m. Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker, Darke County Sheriff’s Office, Jeanne Melville: A case study 40 years in the making. How can we do better?
11:15-11:45 a.m. Detective Jason Hodge, Cincinnati Police Department, Missing Persons Investigations
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Lunch/brunch available for attendee purchase at several on-campus venues (information on dining options available at the event)
Afternoon Sessions in the Corona Room
12:30-1:30 p.m. Todd Matthews, Director of Communications and Management for the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) and Amy Dobbs, NamUs Regional System Administrator for Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, NamUs: Making a Difference
1:30-2:00 p.m. Debra Dixon, Local 12 News Crime Reporter, Getting the Public Involved in Missing and Unidentified Persons Cases
2:00-2:30 p.m. Dr. Beth Murray, Biological and Forensic Anthropologist, Cold Case Mystery: The ‘Buckskin Girl’
NamUs will also have a table at the event to teach people how to use the system and will be able to take DNA swabs and reports from anyone with a missing family member.
“These grass root events take us right to the heart of the community,” said Todd Matthews, director of case management and communications at NamUs. “Knowledge is power. If we can help just one person, it will be worth it.”
The speaker sessions at the event will discuss missing persons and ways in which forensic science is used to identify the unknown dead; the subject matter may not be suitable for children under middle school age.