DETROIT (WWJ) – Michigan State Police held an event Thursday to help identify some of the hundreds of bodies in a holding pattern at the Wayne County morgue.
The event was created to help identify human remains held at the morgue by matching them to family reference DNA donated by the families of missing persons.
The state of Michigan has 266 unidentified remains with about 200 of those being in Wayne County.
Detective Trooper Sarah Krebs says many people are very apprehensive about finding out the truth.
“We hope that most of them would choose to know rather than not know, so if they could come in, at least take that first step in getting their DNA on file to see if we can match it up,” said Det. Krebs.
She tells WWJ that a lot of these cases are not reported to police.
“So when the families are coming in here – we are finding that we had no record of their person missing.”
“The reason we set up this event, in particular, is we realize there is more of a need to collect DNA – more than just one day a year at our annual event – so we’ve been holding these to supplement our DNA collection and really target the family’s that are looking for their loved ones and think that they have met foul play,” Krebs said.
Last time this event was held, the family of murdered Detroit mom, Evelyn Gunter, gave DNA samples which identified her remains.
“This is the first case that’s actually going to prosecution in Michigan. So that’s a milestone for us as an organization and we were glad that we were able to bring Evelyn’s family some answers and we hope that we get the just that they deserve,” said Krebs.
If possible, families are encouraged to bring police reports, photos, x-rays, medical and dental records, as well as at least two biological relatives of their missing loved one to the event.
Events such as these can help law enforcement identify missing persons throughout the country. Another case solved through this process was in 2013 – when the skeletal remains of a 1994 case involving a woman who was found in an abandoned farm house in St. Clair County, was identified with the help of family DNA reference samples. The remains were identified as Diann Tatum from Cincinnati, Ohio who went missing in 1988.
Currently there are about 4,000 documented missing persons cases in the Michigan.
The Michigan State Police (MSP), Detroit Police Department and Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office partner twice a year to help identify missing persons – the next event is expected in December and you can check MSP’s website late fall for more information.