Cases of missing and unidentified children are some of the most heartbreaking ones. Such cases may take years even decades before they are resolved. Long-term missing and unidentified children turn into cold cases waiting for new leads and evidence that will hopefully lead to a resolution. Fortunately, developments in technologies and forensics made leaps and bounds allowing investigations to be improved, hastened and made thorough. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) Is in the forefront supporting law enforcement to handle such challenging cases towards successful resolution
Carol Schweitzer is the Supervisor of the Forensic Services Unit for the NCMEC and she is this course’s guest speaker. In her role, she assists law enforcement on long-term missing children, child homicide and unidentified deceased child cases.
Carol discusses the innovative investigative tools and techniques that can be utilized to solve long term missing and unidentified cases. Points she unpacked on this course include:
- An overview of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and how they support law enforcement and other stakeholders with long-term missing and unidentified children cases.
- The four core functions of NCMEC’s specialized team from coordinating field and forensic resources, providing analytical support, assisting case strategies, and supporting with media elements.
- The steps toward a case resolution:
- Preliminary information gathering and person searches.
- Biometrics that may require creativity in obtaining valuable leads from existing pieces of evidence, checking other agencies for evidence retained, and following paper trails.
- Procedures to come up with an image to be used in a proactive media strategy as age progression and facial reconstruction as well as engaging the public in information and leads gathering through social media.
- Lead development where analysts do comprehensive searches on multiple databases and partner federal agencies for a more thorough approach.
- Forensic professionals and partners to connect with, and the different technology utilized as forensic genealogy, chemical isotope analysis, and pollen analysis to come up with valuable leads to cases.
- Recovery identification of 135 identification and 39 recovered children in NCMEC’s operation for the last 8 years.
- Several case studies were also presented to illustrate how the different procedures and techniques are able to lead towards case resolution.
- Carol addressed questions and comments raised by the audience on:
- Who processes and analyzes data gathered and where to access the reports.
- NCMEC’s role in investigation.
- Forensic laboratories that can assist with forensic genealogy.
- Training and resources on forensic genealogy.
- Obtaining DNA from PKU cards.
- The cost for law enforcement to develop forensic images internally.
- Court cases where forensic genealogy was challenged.
- Collecting pollen samples for analysis.
Resources Mentioned During Webinar:
- “A lot of new information for me about forensic genealogy. Thank you so much for this valuable information.” — Karen
- “This was a really great webinar! Very informative and easy to follow. I especially liked the info about DNA and databases, and the diligence of law enforcement, even after years/decades of a person being missing or dead.” — Denise
- “[The webinar included a] good, plain-language explanation of forensic genealogy and forensic pollen analysis.” — Joseph
- “Carol Schweitzer did an excellent job on FORENSIC testing on Cold Case Investigations. Thank you!” — Sherry