In Sacramento County alone, there are more than 72 active “John Doe” and “Jane Doe” Coroner cases, some of which date back to 1975. In an effort to connect people with the resources to find their long-term missing loved ones, the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office
has partnered with local and national law enforcement agencies to host the Missing in CA event on June 9.
On any given day, the Coroner’s office works to identify deceased individuals in an effort to bring closure to families. Often, individuals are identified quickly using finger prints or personal identification. In some instances, family members or friends will report a person missing to law enforcement who then works with the Coroner’s Office to see if any unidentified cases meet the reported description.
Long-term unidentified cases are often transient or disconnected from family. In these cases, investigators work with national law enforcement and reference missing persons websites for matching descriptions. Often a sketch or facial reconstruction model is used, particularly if the body is too decomposed when discovered.
Though it may seem unlikely that long open cases will never be identified but that simply isn’t true. An unidentified male discovered in 1980 was identified in June 2016. The more information collected about an individual the more likely they are going to be identified. This information can come from several sources. For example, the Coroner collects DNA, dental records, x-rays, jewelry, and documents tattoos and birthmarks for all unidentified cases.
“This event is an opportunity to gather additional identifying information,” says Kimberly Gin, Sacramento County Coroner. “The more information we have, the better chance we have at identifying these individuals and bringing closure to their families.”
Law enforcement will be on hand at the event to take reports and gather information and identifiers from families of missing persons. This information including photos, DNA and dental records will be compared to coroner unidentified cases in Sacramento and surrounding counties.