- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - All of New York’s medical examiners and coroners will soon have to share fingerprints and other information about their unidentified dead with the federal data center trying to match remains with America’s missing.

The law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week imposes that requirement in 60 days, though the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System already has profiles of 1,294 unnamed New York dead that were submitted voluntarily.

They are among more than 13,300 filed nationally since the database opened a decade ago. Almost 2,300 of those cases have been closed. The publicly accessible website, called NamUs, says it has helped close 761.

The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner contributes already. It handles the majority of cases statewide. The law requires the state’s 57 other counties to follow. Sponsors said that increases the probability remains will be identified, bringing closure to families.

“Law enforcement, families and all others involved in finding missing persons will have a greater possibility to solve one crime, a series of related crimes, and most importantly provide closure to grieving families who have lost loved ones with no explanation,” said Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat and sponsor of the legislation.

New York data on NamUs show at least 21 counties outside New York City have reported unidentified dead. The most recent was the body of a man between 20 and 30, his race uncertain, found in Ulster County on March 15.

The federal center was developed by the National Institute of Justice in a national effort to identify an estimated 40,000 unidentified human remains in the offices of coroners and medical examiners nationally that were buried or cremated. About 4,400 new cases occur every year, with 1,000 still unidentified a year later.

NamUs also has a database of people reported missing, including 532 from New York.

The state’s coroners and medical examiners already are required to send fingerprints to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services when they have questions about identification.

The division received more than 7,800 last year, checking against fingerprints on file, but doesn’t aggregate information separately about the unknown dead and doesn’t forward it to NamUs.




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