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Award Information

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

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



Building on our successful Pennsylvania 2016-2018 Cold Case Initiative, the proposed project’s statewide program plans to significantly reduce the number of missing persons (MP) and unidentified human remains (UHR) throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. By creating a statewide approach to establishing the scope of the missing and unidentified human remains and providing technical assistance, the proposed project plans to 1) Survey county and state agencies for an inventory of the total number of unidentified and missing persons; 2) Assess each case’s status and needs  to prioritize testing and analysis; 3) Implement required testing to advance cases to current investigative standards; 4) Identify and repatriate unknown human remains once identified; and 5) Create a multi-agency Project Workgroup with representatives from all relevant stakeholders to assist with the reporting, analysis, and repatriation of human remains and the entering of all qualified cases into NamUs, NCIC, and, where applicable, ViCAP, by the end of the funding period.

For qualifying cases (n=60), technical assistance and scientific testing will be available and applied to each case, including a) Exhumation of John/Jane Doe graves for analysis; b) Autosomal STR (Short Tandem Repeat), Mitochondrial, SNP, and Family Genetic Genealogical DNA testing for bones and teeth; c) Fingerprint submission through the Next Generation Identification system; and d) Forensic anthropological examinations, including osteological analysis for biometrics and trauma analyses; d) Facial and clothing reconstructions; e) Forensic odontograms; f) Filing missing person reports and updating family reference samples where needed. Once human remains are identified, the family notification and repatriation of the remains will be made through the local coroner, medical examiner, and law enforcement agency as determined by state law. As identification is critical in its contribution to key evidence in criminal homicide investigations, priority in case selection testing will be given to homicide cases as these pose the greatest public threat. Criteria for prioritizing case testing includes those UHRs who represent marginalized groups whose victimization has historically been disproportionately ignored within the current system (e.g., African Americans and females).

Date Created: September 8, 2023