Criminal Justice Professor Presents Research on Missing Person Cases

Ann Bunch presented her preliminary findings on local resolved missing person cases at the 73rd annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences this month.

Ann Bunch (Department of Criminal Justice) presented her preliminary findings on missing person cases (virtually) at the 73rd annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.  Using a national database of 883 cases from the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NaMUS), Bunch used available data categories to determine whether patterns existed in locations of where the missing person was

  1. Last Known Alive and where his/her remains were eventually
  2. [Body] Recovered.

This study was a follow-up to a county-based study published in 2017 by Bunch, Moonsun Kim (Department of Criminal Justice), and Special Agent Ronald Brunelli of the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office. The pattern that emerged was comparable; 60% of the resolved cases had both LKA and BR in the same county.  An additional 17% showed the two points in adjacent counties (LKA in one, BR in the adjacent jurisdiction). This pattern shows that missing person cases are, in the vast majority, local matters that can be resolved by local authorities. 

Another pattern that emerged was the statistically significant representation of males in the resolved missing person dataset. Males comprised 66% of the cases and were also reported missing more often to a significant degree.

Future research will work to quantify the distance between the LKA and BR points within counties, adjacent counties, and beyond. In addition, interpretations of the overrepresentation of males in this dataset will be developed.

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