NJ State Police Invite You to Help Crack a Thousand Missing-Persons Cases
Every year in New Jersey about 15,000 people go missing.
Most of them are quickly found, but a small percentage are not.
On Saturday at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, the New Jersey State Police will host a first-of-its-kind Missing in New Jersey event.
“It’s for the citizens of the state of New Jersey who have been affected by long-term missing people,” said Lt. Louis Andrinopoulos, the head of the State Police Missing Person’s Unit.
He said the idea is to get families together “and let them know that they’re not alone going through this, there’s hope out there for them.”
“We’d like them to use each other as a resource and we’d like them to trust in us and help us solve these long term missing cases that we have.”
In addition to State Police missing person’s investigators, there will be detectives from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and members of the DNA Forensic lab.
There are 325 unidentified dead people in New Jersey and State Police are looking for people in New Jersey to submit DNA samples to help find a match.
“The science has evolved through fingerprinting, through dental, through medical records, and now we’ve come to where DNA is a key component.”
He explained DNA samples are submitted to a national database, where they are compared every day with evidence that is gathered from around the country.
“Fingerprints go away, you may not have complete dental records, but DNA is the wave of the future – that’s the best way we can identify people,” he said.
Andrinopoulos said under state law, “at 30 days, law enforcement is required to submit a family reference sample, a sister, a mother, a sibling, a parent a grandparent, an aunt, and the unidentified deceased is then compared to family reference samples."
He pointed out those who have not spoken to law enforcement about a missing loved one are able to do so at the event on Saturday.
“We have people, for example, who do not make reports, they don’t trust law enforcement, they may have fear of their legal status, this event gives them a chance to come talk to us voluntarily,” he said.
He urged anyone who knows about a missing person to come to the event and speak with investigators.
“We can’t solve the puzzle until we get the first piece, and that first piece is reporting that person to law enforcement,” he said.
He explained there are about 1,100 long term missing persons in New Jersey, those who have not been seen or heard from in at least a month.
“It could be abductions, it could be murders, it can be people who have wandered off that have never been found, it can be people that don’t want to be found,” he said.
And all different types of people disappear.
“You have children that go missing, you have elderly that go missing, you have people that are going through crisis that are suicidal.”
He stressed the notion that you have to wait 24 hours in New Jersey to report someone missing is completely false.
“Here at the missing person’s unit of the State Police, we encourage people to report their loved ones missing as soon as they are aware of it, it helps us in the investigation and recovery of that person.”