Long-Term Missing & Unidentified Children
NCMEC offers specialized services to help law enforcement and families find long term-missing children, provide resources to assist with child abduction homicides, and identify unknown children. These children are never forgotten and NCMEC works diligently to help resolve these challenging cases. NCMEC can assist on these cases through the Forensic Services Unit, Project ALERT, and the Forensic Imaging Team.
Forensic Services Unit
The Forensic Services Unit (FSU) within the Missing Children Division calls upon subject matter experts from a wide array of disciplines to help develop comprehensive investigative strategies, including the latest technologies, to ensure that all possible avenues have been considered.
FSU can facilitate the collection of biometric data (DNA, dentals, fingerprints) on missing and unidentified children and assist authorities getting that information entered into NCIC and NamUs. Additionally, FSU can facilitate advanced forensic testing on cases of missing and unidentified children through our partnered forensic labs that specialize in DNA case work, pollen analysis, chemical isotope analysis and fingerprint testing.
FSU hosts 1-2 day case reviews on long-term missing, child abduction homicides, and unidentified children that provides investigating law enforcement agencies with a thorough review of their case by a panel of subject matter experts.
NCMEC’s Media Team works closely with FSU to develop media strategies that support law enforcement’s efforts and create opportunities to highlight the case to the public through targeted media pushes, press notifications, and social media. The HelpIDMe Facebook page is managed by FSU and features cases of unidentified children in attempts to develop leads from the public to the child’s identity.
Project ALERT works closely with the Forensic Services Unit to provide on-site support to law enforcement agencies. They assist law enforcement with case reviews, comprehensive analysis, search and rescue, biometrics collection and integration of all other available NCMEC resources to help resolve the case.
Forensic Imaging Team
NCMEC recognizes the importance of photos in these long-term missing child and unidentified deceased child cases. For cases of unidentified children, the Forensic Artists work closely with forensic anthropologists to ensure appropriate physical descriptors are accurately portrayed.
NCMEC’s Forensic Artists can assist law enforcement by:
• Progressing photos of missing children younger than 18 every two years to show what the child may look like as they remain missing. For children 18 or older the artists recommend age progressing photos every 5 years.
• Enhancing post mortem photos of unidentified children by removing any facial trauma to make images suitable for public viewing in hopes someone will recognize the child.
• Creating a 3D facial reconstruction using a CT scan of an unidentified child’s skull that can be released to the public in hopes someone will recognize the child.
• Digitally enhancing or recreating images of tattoos, clothing or items recovered on or with an unidentified deceased child that can be released to the public.