Maricopa County Asking For Help Identify Missing Persons

Maricopa County works all year long to identify missing persons and bring closure to families, but not every attempt leads to a connection.

“In the state of Arizona alone, we have 1700 unidentified, and a lot of those cases are cases where we don’t have any family reference samples to compare it to,” said Christen Eggers, Unidentified Decedent Coordinator for the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner.

On October 27, help Maricopa County bring closure to more families by bringing medical records and photos of your missing loved one to Missing in Arizona Day.

Missing in Arizona Day is an annual event where forensic experts, law enforcement, consulates, and organizations from across the state meet with the public to try to match Arizona missing persons with unidentified decedents.

“It’s important for these families that are missing their loved ones to bring in their dental records in order to help us make the identification,“ said Dr. John Piakis, Maricopa County’s Office of the Medical Examiner Forensic Odontologist.

Dr. Piakis said dental records could result in an instant identification if the unidentified person’s dental examination matches the records. “We can do it relatively quickly. A lot quicker than fingerprints and DNA,” said Dr. Piakis.

Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Laura Fulginiti encouraged people to participate even if the information they have is limited.

“The more that people come forward, the more people we will identify,” said Dr. Fulginiti. “If your loved one has had any kind of surgical intervention of any kind, we can see it in the bones. Any type of accident that happened during the individual’s life is important for us to know about. There’s no limit on how old your missing person is, and there’s no limit on the kind of information you can give. We will take anything you can give us.”

Join Maricopa County and other agencies in their efforts to identify missing persons on October 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Arizona State University West campus, La Sala Ballroom.

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