Inaugural Missing Persons Day Aims to Bring Closure in Cold Cases
The female skeletal remains found wrapped in a comforter in January 2013 on a Brisbane mountainside tells a little of her story. She was between 33 and 46 years old at the time of death. Caucasian with European ancestry. Between 5’1” and 5’9” tall. A healed bone injury indicates a possible fall or traffic accident earlier in life. Deceased sometime between 2001 and 2008. But her hair, eyes and weight are unknown. In fact, short of the Turtle Bay-brand Christmas themed shirt found on the bones, Brisbane police remain in search of answers about who she is, let alone how she got there.
Authorities are hopeful the mystery may soon be solved thanks to San Mateo County’s first-ever Missing Persons Day which aims to reunite loved ones and bridge the gap across a vast number of missing persons and unidentified persons DNA profiles. The April 21, 2018, event is an opportunity for family and friends of missing individuals to bring biological relatives of that person to the Coroner’s Office in San Mateo where they can submit familial DNA and provide identifying information such as surgical or dental X-rays. Staff from the Coroner’s Office and other Bay Area law, health and safety agencies will be on shand to file missing persons reports and swab cheeks for genetic matching.
HELPFUL ITEMS TO BRING:
- Photos of the missing person
- Two of the missing person’s closely related family members for collection of cheek swabs
- X-rays, dental or medical records
- Any other identifying information
Members of the public can also learn about missing and unidentified person investigations and take proactive identification steps by completing child identification kits and “Vial of Life” information for adults.
“Missing Persons Day is an opportunity to help reunite a missing person with their family and friends. Ideally, those missing will be found living but tragically we know that isn’t always the case. Either way, finding these answers helps provide closure and healing,” said Coroner Robert Foucrault.
The San Mateo County Coroner’s Office recently had the opportunity to bring similar closure to the family of Longshan Jin, 65, who went missing in June 2017 after going fishing near Miramontes Point Beach in Half Moon Bay. His daughter submitted her DNA and her father’s toothbrush to build a DNA profile in the Combined DNA Index System for Missing Persons (CODIS). That December, a walker found a femur on Miramontes Point Beach and turned it over to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. On April 5, 2018, the bone was positively identified as belonging to Jin.
Foucrault said he hopes Missing Persons Day will help bring similar conclusions for families and law enforcement. San Mateo County alone has approximately 440 active missing persons and approximately 80 unique sets of unidentified human remains.
“Unfortunately, a vast majority don’t have DNA on file which is a key reason why we decided Missing Persons Day is so important to hold,” Foucrault said.
Michelle Moneda, Brisbane Police Department public information officer, said the event is also important to agencies such as hers to help families figure out where a loved one might be and — in her case — finally put a name to the woman on the mountainside.
The San Mateo County Coroner’s Office is collaborating with local county law enforcement, the National Missing and Unidentified Person System (NamUs), the California Department of Justice, Alameda County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Bureau, Donor Network West, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery, interfaith chaplains and San Mateo County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit.
Bay Area Missing Persons Day is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 21, 2018, at the Coroner’s Office, 50 Tower Road, San Mateo, CA 94402. To schedule an appointment or for more information, contact Assistant Coroner Emily Tauscher at 650-312-5223 or firstname.lastname@example.org