DETROIT - For families of missing people, discovering a loved one is dead can be a heartbreaking reality, but knowing one way or the other can bring closure.
Officials from Michigan State Police, the Detroit Police Department, Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office and NamUS are teaming up for an "ID the Missing" event at the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office, located at 1300 East Warren Avenue in Detroit.
"If you are missing somebody and you feel like maybe they could be there, this is the time to come forward," said Detective Sgt. Sarah Krebs, of the Michigan State Police Missing Persons Unit.
"It's extremely successful," Krebs said. "We have found answers for a lot of families by doing this. We invite the families of missing people that have not heard from somebody in a long time and are concerned that they could possibly be at the morgue as unidentified remains, and that's really our intent is to identify some of these John Doe and Jane Doe cases that we do have at the Wayne County Morgue by matching them back to missing persons records."
Families of missing people should bring two biological family members who can give DNA samples, other identifying documents, including dental or medical records, and pictures of the missing person.
Some cases are solved the same day, depending on the identifying information available. Other cases are solved once DNA is processed or the body of a missing person shows up.
"I'm always very honest with my family members about what they're about to embark on, and I'm frank with them about, 'A very real outcome is they're going to be here at the morgue,'" Kreb's said. "They're already facing that challenge coming into it, so it's not a complete blindsided event when I do give them a death notification. That they come there knowing that this is a possibility but that's real and they need to face that and that may be why it's so hard for them to come forward in the first place."
Krebs said the event is sometimes the first time a family fills out a missing persons report for their loved one. The "ID the Missing" event is an opportunity for family members who have been afraid to come forward to do so.
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