National Missing Persons Week – can you solve the case?
National Missing Persons Week, which starts today, is an annual event aimed at resolving missing persons cases through raising community awareness about the issues facing missing people and their families.
“The theme of this year’s Missing Persons Week, “Can You Solve the Case?”, centres around unidentified human remains,” said Sergeant John Delpero of Tasmania Police’s Missing Persons Unit.
“Since 1994, 26 sets of human remains located in Tasmania have been identified and matched to long term missing people through forensic examinations. The identifications have brought some much needed closure and answers for the families and loved ones of missing people,” Sergeant Delpero said.
“There are currently 71 recorded sets of human remains, the vast majority dating back decades, which were discovered in Tasmania and are currently unidentified.”
Circumstances surrounding the discovery of human remains vary but usually include being:
- located by police or private organisations during targeted searches.
- located by people while undertaking recreational activities in bushlands or foreshores.
- located by excavation companies while undertaking works.
“When human remains are located, depending on their type, they are examined by several forensic experts including anthropologists, DNA scientists, pathologists and odontologists with the aim of identifying the person they belong to. They are then reported to the Coroner,” Sergeant Delpero said.
“The National DNA Program for Unidentified and Missing Persons, launched in 2020, also plays a pivotal role in the identification of human remains.
“If a forensic match isn’t immediately made, the identification process doesn’t stop. Each time the DNA profile of a missing person’s family member is obtained, it’s cross-referenced nationally against any DNA profiles obtained from human remains and vice-versa.
“The aim of Tasmania Police, and the forensic experts involved in examining unidentified human remains, is to identify a match with a missing person to bring much deserved answers for families and loved ones.”
“We aim to locate every missing person and cases are never closed until the person is located.”
Human remains discovered in Tasmania that have been matched to a missing person include:
- a skull bone located on Mount Wellington in 1972 was matched to a long-term missing person via DNA examinations in 2018.
- a skull bone located south-east of Hobart in 2008 was matched to a long-term missing person via DNA examinations in 2022.
- a skull located south-west of Devonport in 2022 was matched to a long-term missing person via dental examinations later that year.
Human remains discovered in Tasmania which are currently unidentified include:
- a Tibia (shin bone) located at Pardoe Beach in Devonport on 20/06/2000. Through forensic examinations the bone is believed to be from a male, aged around 20 to 30 years, about 152cm tall.
- a Fibula (calf bone) located at Park Beach, Dodges Ferry on 08/08/2000. Through forensic examinations the bone is believed to be from either a female aged around 14-17, about 170cm tall; or a male aged around 14-18, about 173cm tall.
- a Femur (thigh bone) located at Carlton Beach, Carlton on 14/07/2022. Through forensic examinations the bone is believed to be from a male.
“This week, during National Missing Persons Week, I urge anyone with information in relation to a missing person to come forward and help us provide some closure to the families and loved ones of the victims.”
Information can be provided direct to Tasmania Police on 131 444 or reported through Crime Stoppers Tasmania.
David Higgins, CEO of Crime Stoppers Tasmania reminds the community that Crime Stoppers Tasmania provides the opportunity for information to be reported anonymously.
“I encourage anyone with information about a missing person to report to police through Crime Stoppers Tasmania,” Mr Higgins said.
“At Crime Stoppers we don’t need your name or personal details, just the information you’re reporting for police investigation. If you report anonymously, you can still be eligible for a reward if your information leads to a conviction.”
“Information can be provided to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or through our online portal at crimestopperstas.com.au”.
- Further information about the National DNA Program for Unidentified and Missing Persons program is at https://www.missingpersons.gov.au/support/national-dna-program-unidentified-and-missing-persons
- Profiles of Tasmanian long-term missing persons can be viewed at missingpersons.gov.au/view-all-profiles
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