Missing Persons Day hopes to bring closure to families in New York City

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Tim Fleischer has an exclusive look inside the DNA lab at the city medical examiner's office on Missing Persons Day.

Missing Persons Day is happening Saturday in New York City.

The backdrop for this second annual event comes with some staggering statistics.

More than 13,000 people were reported missing last year in New York City, including at least 200 children.

The DNA lab at the Medical Examiner's Office is critical in finding missing people.

Different ages, different races, 13 individuals with the help of 3D facial recognition hopefully can move out of the shadows.

"We need to do whatever we can to try and identify these people," said Dr. Barbara Sampson, NYC Chief Medical Examiner.

For the first time these victims, some of the coldest missing person cases, will be part of the city Medical Examiner's second Missing Persons Day, a support event for families and friends of missing people.

"To give themselves the possibility of finding their long term missing loved one and to get that closure that we know benefits families so very much," Dr. Sampson said.

With the help of DNA and other sophisticated testing in their labs, the Medical Examiner's office hopes to identify some 1,200 people in its case files.

Blood relatives can give a DNA swab which is then run through various national and local data bases.

"To see is there anything more that can possibly be done, whether it's through the investigative side with law enforcement or the scientific side of things," Dr. Sampson said.

Through the DNA and information provided at a previous event in 2014, seven people were identified bringing closure to their families.

"The families that have had that closure are extremely grateful and that's why we do this," Dr. Sampson said.

Now if you don't feel comfortable providing a DNA sample, you can certainly take the kit home with you and decide later or use it in the privacy of your own home and send it back to the Medical Examiner's office.

You can also call in advance to learn suggested items to bring that might be helpful in the identification process.

For more information, visit nyc.gov/ocme, or call (212) 323-1201.
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missing personDNANew York City
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