DNA CODIS Overview
Within 30 days after a person is reported missing and is not found, law enforcement must inform the family of the missing person that they can voluntarily submit a sample of their DNA to UNTCHI to be processed and entered into the CODIS database. The samples are obtained by swabbing the inside of the cheek(s) of relative(s) of the missing person. In the rare case that family members are not available, a direct reference sample from the missing person can be used for DNA purposes (toothbrush, biopsy tissue). The samples are processed to produce DNA profiles which are then entered into a CODIS database and remain there until an association, if any, is made.
Simultaneously, human remains found throughout the country can be submitted to UNTCHI to be processed for DNA and to have the DNA profile entered into a CODIS database. DNA profiles from the unidentified humans are then compared to the relatives of missing persons. If the family members' DNA profiles are present in the CODIS database, an association between the family references and the unidentified remains will occur.
The database can only help solve missing person's cases if DNA profiles from the family references and the unidentified remains are entered into CODIS. If law enforcement does not collect samples from the family members, identification of the missing cannot happen.
To facilitate this process, the National Institute of Justice has funded UNTCHI's development of a family reference sample collection kit. This kit is available free of charge to any submitting agency.