History of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) Article

Hanzlick, R, Clark, S, Lothridge, K. (2011). History of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) . 1(3), 310-321. 10.23907/2011.042

cited authors

  • Hanzlick, R; Clark, S; Lothridge, K


  • This article describes the development of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, commonly referred to as NamUs. The NamUs database is the outcome of a pilot project called the Unidentified Decedent Reporting System (UDRS) which first emerged in 2005. We discuss the reasons for the formation of NamUs, the sequence of events during its evolution, and the organizations and agencies which have supported or participated in the development of NamUs. NamUs now includes databases for missing persons (NamUs MP) and unidentified decedents (NamUs UP), and programming allows for automated potential matches between missing persons and unidentified decedents, along with extensive search capability using a wide variety of search criteria as selected by the users including the public. As of August 2011, of the over 8,000 cases cumulatively entered into NamUs UP as “unidentified,” 437 have been identified. Most importantly, NamUs aided in the identification of 55 (12.5%) of these cases. On the missing persons side (NamUs MP), of the 8,806 cases cumulatively entered as missing, 2123 (24%) are now marked as found, with 120 (6%) marked as NamUs-aided. NamUs has gained continued federal support and Regional NamUs Training Academies have been held in several locations across the country. In brief, NamUs has evolved from a relatively simple registry with a core set of searchable, critical data items to a much more complex system with a considerably larger database structure and search capability, which has led to identification of unidentified decedents and the location of missing persons.

publication date

  • November 1, 2011

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 310

end page

  • 321


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