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FY 2023 Missing and Unidentified Human Remains (MUHR) Program - Kentucky State Police Forensic Laboratory

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, $832,443)

The Kentucky State Police Forensic Laboratory (KSPFL) has provided DNA analysis to the Commonwealth of Kentucky since 1989 and remains dedicated to pursuing technological advances within the forensic community.  Currently, KSPFL provides assistance to more than 400 law enforcement agencies, including  missing persons (MP) and unidentified human remains (UHR) cases and collaborates with medical examiners and coroners for UHR cases.  The purpose of this proposal is to expand KSPFL’s MP and UHR program to further enhances its ability to serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky. 

In 2021, the implementation of RAPID DNA analysis at KSPFL allowed the laboratory to analyze samples from relatives of MP and UHR cases in-house, which had previously required outsourcing.   This new capability not only provided valuable insights into the current process, but also highlighted deficiencies in how these cases were being handled.

The laboratory conducted a preliminary inventory determining there are currently at least 75 sets of UHR (including up to 10 that require exhumation) and over 300 MP cases.  Additionally, preliminary data from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) uncovered 540 missing individuals not yet registered in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).

KSPFL has developed a comprehensive plan to improve reporting, processing, and identification of MP and UHR cases.  This includes providing training to law enforcement officials about the laboratory’s capabilities and emphasizing the importance of entering cases into NamUs and ViCAP, where applicable.  KSPFL will assist with the collection and DNA analysis of appropriate family reference samples and direct reference samples and providing collection kits to all agencies in the Commonwealth.  Collaboration with coroners, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies will be key in obtaining UHR and family reference samples (FRS) with conventional DNA testing and  YSTR/familial DNA analysis for comparison against the CODIS State DNA Index System (SDIS) when appropriate.  For further analysis, KSPFL will contract with vendor laboratories to submit cases for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Forensic Genetic Genealogy (FGG).  To ensure continued access to information and identification resources, KSPFL will collaborate with KSP intelligence analysts and obtain certification in FGG investigations.  Through these efforts, KSPFL believes that the Commonwealth will significantly increase its ability to identify and repatriate remains in Kentucky’s MP and UHR cases.

Date Created: September 8, 2023