Imagine that you went missing and were never found. Or that your body was found, but never identified. It’s not science fiction: Even in today’s tech-savvy age, people disappear.
According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, there are more than 10,000 unidentified dead people in the United States – tucked away in morgues or buried in pauper’s graves. The FBI estimates that some 80,000 people are missing on any given day. So what keeps authorities from connecting missing people to Jane and John Does?
On Sept. 2, we’ll launch a new investigation called Left for Dead: Inside America’s Coldest Cases. Reporter G.W. Schulz looks into cases of people who have remained unidentified for decades and talks with the families they left behind. He reveals how the disorganization, neglect and indifference of state and local authorities – police, medical examiners and others – contribute to the problem.
Our investigation includes a new interactive tool that offers families, investigators and citizen Web sleuths easier access to data that may help them close these cases. The tool for the first time allows side-by-side comparison between the missing and the unidentified dead.
Sign up for the Reveal newsletter below to get a special weekly look from G.W. as we roll out the project. Every Tuesday for a month, you’ll receive a note from him with background information on the project, as well as links to relevant materials and stories. Also subscribe to our podcast, where we’ll be releasing a new story weekly, and tune in to public radio stations around the country for our hourlong Reveal radio episode.