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Unidentified Project in Virginia

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,000,000)

The Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) proposes to implement the Virginia Unidentified Project. The purpose is to investigate and identify unidentified human remains cases within the Commonwealth of Virginia. At present, there are approximately 200 unidentified human remains cases that are under the jurisdiction of the Virginia OCME. There are 30 cases that are buried that would require exhumation investigation; 20-30 would need updated forensic anthropology examinations; approximately half of the unidentified remains could potentially be sent off forensic genetic genealogy (FGG). Project activities include exhuming buried unidentified human remains cases; performing updated forensic anthropology and forensic odontology examinations; submitting samples to the Virginia Department of Forensic Science for DNA CODIS entry; submitting samples to a private laboratory for forensic genetic genealogy (FGG); and working with local law enforcement on case entry into NCIC and ViCAP, where applicable. Expected outcomes include the hope that several cases will be identified, and the unidentified human remains can be repatriated to their families; but in the event that cases are not identified, the hope is that our investigation and case files for these remains can be completed and up to date with the newest technologies available. The intended beneficiaries of the Virginia Unidentified Project are the families and friends of missing loved ones, as well as the unidentified decedents, who can be returned to their families. The Virginia OCME is, by Virginia Code, only allowed to investigate unidentified human remains cases, and therefore missing persons activities and investigations will not be addressed.

Date Created: September 8, 2023