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Database changes are giving families of missing persons new hope

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janeSNOHOMISH COUNTY — Meet Jane Doe. “She was probably 15-21 years old, but most likely 16-19” explains Snohomish County Detective Jim Scharf. She is the poster child if you will for unidentified remains in the county and has also attracted national attention. Scharf says, “The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are doing everything that they can to try and get all of these children identified.”

Across the U.S.  there are sixty thousand unidentified remains, ninety-five of those are in Washington state, and eight are in Snohomish county, including young Jane Doe. She was brutally murdered in August of 1977, strangled and then shot seven times in the face by convicted killer David Roth. Police used skeletal remains to create depictions of what she may have looked like. But as technology has advanced over the years, so has her appearance, and sometimes with the help of her killer.

“This is the one that John Hinds drew originally and then we had David Roth look at it and he said that this didn’t look like her. So we went back and john drew this picture and David Roth said that was her hairstyle,” Scharf said.

But while he works to identify this Jane Doe, other families of missing persons may have new hope because of changes in law enforcement databases. Detective Scharf says it’s imperative they call their local police department and ensure their loved ones are still on file. Scharf explains, “If you’re a run away and reported as a runaway, once you turn eighteen, you’re removed from the system because you’re not a runaway anymore ‘cause you’re an adult.”

And with newer advances in D-N-A, family members are urged to submit a sample into the national database specifically for cases like these. Because now when remains are found, information is uploaded into systems like N.C.I.C. and NAMUS.

“So they’re sitting there with D-N-A profiles in this database waiting for family members to match up to that D-N-A profile.”

NAMUS is relatively new and holds information like finger prints, dental records and sometimes even descriptions. Scharf gives an example of one of the files listed on the database, “She was measured , approximately 70 inches, 155 pounds, white female age 15-21.” It is accessible to the public and only takes a few minutes to check names, descriptions or sometimes even sketches. It could help families like young Jane Doe’s find answers. Scharf adds, “It would mean a lot to me to find the family that she belongs to and be able to tell them exactly what happened to her.”

If you have any information on her case, call an anonymous tip into:

CRIME STOPPERS: 1-800-222-TIPS

You must call the Crime Stoppers hotline with your tip to be eligible to receive a cash reward for information leading to a fugitive’s arrest.

CLICK HERE for information on how to TEXT A TIP to Crime Stoppers