FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office announced it will be expanding its cold case unit to include missing person cases from the past five decades.
District Attorney Thomas Quinn said the unit is actively reviewing a group of people who have “vanished without a trace during the past 50 years” in conjunction with their effort to put a name to all unidentified bodies. That initiative was announced earlier this summer.
“We are trying to locate each and every one of these missing persons in order to bring some closure to families and friends who have been searching for their loved ones for years,” Quinn said in a news release. “It is also likely that in some of these cases, people have gone missing as a result of foul play and criminal conduct.”
“At the heart of our mission is bringing justice to victims. That is why we are now expanding our ‘cold case’ efforts into new frontiers,” he added.
To start, the DA’s office is highlighting 19 missing persons cases where it has received a DNA sample either from the person who’s missing, evidence associated with him or her, or from a family member. That evidence is then logged in the NamUs national database to find any potential matches.
Quinn says the DA’s office generally does not get involved in missing persons cases, but says since there is no statewide database for missing persons, the cold case unit wanted to expand its scope.
“We do believe unidentified remains and missing persons are going to be connected,” Quinn told 12 News.
“But we need to identify a body and go from there with the investigation,” he added. “So support from the family or the public on these cases that go back many years is critical.”
The cold case unit has been successful in solving multiple cold case homicides and previously unsolved violent sexual assaults, according to Quinn.
“The use of the latest forensic technologies involving DNA and genetic genealogy has provided investigators with additional tools to assist in our new Missing Persons Project and our previously announced Unidentified Bodies Project,” Quinn’s office said. “Ongoing efforts are being undertaken to not only identify unidentified bodies but also to develop a DNA profile for missing persons so that it can be used, even many years later, to assist in identifying a missing person.”
Additionally, DNA evidence linked a man to the previously unsolved 2001 murder of his half-sister in New Bedford.
Anyone with information on any of the missing person cases is asked to contact Lt. Ann Marie Robertson by calling (508) 961-1918 or by emailing email@example.com.
Massachusetts State Police can also be contacted directly at (855) MA-SOLVE [855-627-6583] or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who want to send an anonymous tip can text the word “Bristol” to CRIMES .