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Pinal County Missing and Unidentified Human Remains Project

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $500,000)

The Pinal County Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct DNA analyses of missing and unidentified persons. This includes the analyses of the 22 unidentified persons under their care, collecting 15 familial reference samples for DNA analyses from members of the community who have loved ones missing from the Pinal County Medical Examiner’s Office’s jurisdictional areas (Pinal County, Gila County, and the Gila River Indian Community), and coordinating with consulates for Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Honduras, and El Salvador to obtain up to 225 familial reference samples for DNA analyses from families who have lost loved ones while traversing the southwest border of the United States. The purpose of these efforts is to improve the reporting, transportation, processing, and identification of missing persons and unidentified human remains, including migrants. Project activities include the collection of DNA samples from the unidentified remains as well as familial reference samples for missing persons, the analyses of the collected samples by Bode Technology, and entry into forensic databases, such as the Combined DNA Index System and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Expected outcomes include the increased robusticity of samples, and thus comparison points, within these databases to achieve positive identification for current missing and unidentified persons, improve the probability of positive identification of future missing or unidentified persons across the nation, and reunification of families with their lost loved ones. The intended beneficiaries of the project include the Pinal County Medical Examiner’s Office and members of the public who have lost a loved one. As the sole recipient of the requested grant, the Pinal County Medical Examiner’s Office will receive the crucial financial support needed for DNA analyses and comparison in efforts to achieve positive identification and links between missing and unidentified persons that otherwise would not be achieved due to the current lack of sufficient funding, case prioritization, and the high demand for necessary services. Such successes would subsequently provide answers and closure to members of the public who have lost a loved one.

Date Created: September 8, 2023