Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



When an individual goes missing or an unidentified body is found, many resources are available to assist in resolving the case. These resources are operated and contributed to by a wide variety of entities including state, county, and local law enforcement agencies, coroners, medical examiners, forensic anthropologists and odontologists, military personnel, nonprofit organizations, volunteers, and concerned citizens among others. Currently, our nation does not have a single, fully operational, centralized database that is solely dedicated to finding missing persons and identifying the bodies of Jane and John Does. The existing resources for missing and unidentified persons cases are almost innumerable and the proliferation of these resources needlessly complicates missing and unidentified persons cases. The primary goal of the current research was to identify and analyze the many types of resources involved in missing and unidentified persons cases. This was accomplished through an extensive literature review on missing and unidentified persons and on the United States Department of Justice agencies and database that handle such cases. Two survey projects were also undertaken in addition to the literature review. The first survey gave forensic anthropologists an opportunity to voice their concerns over the handling of unidentified persons cases. The second survey was used to categorize and assess the multitude of web-based resources dedicated to both missing and unidentified persons cases. The missing and unidentified person issue is complex and cannot be fully understood without knowledge of the many factors that can act to prevent and complicate the resolution of cases. The current research has attempted to provide information on how each of these resources could be improved in order to approach better handling of missing and unidentified persons cases nationwide.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mary H. Manhein