DNA Phenotyping to Provide Valuable New Information for Nonprofit’s ‘Help ID Me’ Program
Alexandria, Va. (June 27, 2017) – The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children®(NCMEC) announced today a partnership with Parabon® NanoLabs (Parabon) to employ the company’s Snapshot™ DNA Phenotyping service to assist with efforts to identify unknown deceased children. When the remains of an unknown child are found, NCMEC will use Snapshot’s accurate predictions of eye, hair and skin color, facial morphology and ancestry to scientifically enhance its 3D facial reconstructions – images that show the public how the child would have appeared before they died.
“Many of these children have families who have been searching for them and wondering what happened for years or even decades,” said Carol Schweitzer, a supervisor for NCMEC’s missing children division who oversees cases involving unidentified children. “Our goal is to help give them their name back, and give their family some resolution. An accurate facial reconstruction is critical.”
Until now, forensic artists produced facial reconstructions based only on the features apparent in the skeletal remains. The images presented to the public appeared entirely in gray tones to limit artistic license and focus on the confirmed physical characteristics.
“Our forensic artists tell us they know they have finished a reconstruction when they see a face staring back at them,” said Schweitzer. “Someone knows who these children are, and with Parabon’s help, we can show them a face they will hopefully recognize.”
Parabon’s CEO, Dr. Steven Armentrout, said his company is proud to provide phenotyping services to NCMEC, “It’s an honor for our Snapshot division to assist such a world-class team and serve such a worthy cause.”
NCMEC has helped provide over 100 identifications and is currently assisting with more than 725 cases of unidentified deceased children. Other resources that NCMEC provides in cases related to unidentified deceased children include national missing person searches, analytical support, and advanced forensic testing. For more information about active cases visit www.facebook.com/HelpIDMe.