Administered for the first time in fiscal year (FY) 2022, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Missing and Unidentified Human Remains (MUHR) Program provides funds to enable eligible entities to improve the reporting, transportation, forensic testing, and identification of missing persons and unidentified human remains, including migrants. This program furthers the U.S. Department of Justice’s mission of increasing public safety by providing resources to locate and identify missing persons and unidentified human remains in the United States.
The MUHR Program augments and complements the services available through the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), National Institute of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) Program. NamUs is a free, national, centralized repository and resource center for cases involving missing persons, unidentified human remains, and unclaimed persons.
The MUHR Program fills a gap in the national field by providing federal resources directly to state and local jurisdictions. As a result, the MUHR Program helps jurisdictions become more self-sufficient in reducing their backlog of missing persons and unidentified human remains cases.
Visit BJA’s Forensic Sciences webpage for additional resources and to learn more about how BJA supports this area.
Why This Matters
Over 600,000 individuals go missing in the United States every year. In 2004, the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Census of Medical Examiner and Coroners’ Offices estimated that 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year by medical examiner and coroner offices, with approximately 1,000 of those bodies remaining unidentified after one year. Additionally, unidentified human remains are not uncommon along the U.S.-Mexico border. Most of these remains are assumed to be from undocumented migrants trying to enter the United States, and many border counties lack the resources to even attempt to identify the remains.
There is a great need for resources in the criminal justice community to address the numerous missing persons and unidentified human remains across the United States. BJA’s MUHR Program directly addresses this need by providing funding at the state and local levels to help to identify and repatriate unclaimed persons.
 Between 2007 and 2020, an average of 664,776 missing persons records were entered annually into the National Crime Information Center. See https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ncic.