Public Safety & Homeland Security

The Silent Mass Disaster of Long-Term Missing Persons

New York City event and others like it attempt to identify those who’ve gone missing.

by Staff Report / May 18, 2017
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The number of missing persons nationally is more than 87,000, which the National Institute of Justice has called “the nation’s silent mass disaster.”

Events like the New York City Missing Persons Day, Saturday, May 20, aim to help reduce that number. In the three years of the New York City event, eight missing persons have been identified because of data shared at the event, hosted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Hundreds of families attend the events, and share DNA, fingerprints and other information to help locate missing relatives and friends.

“Families and friends of missing persons struggle every day with unresolved questions about their absent loved ones,” said Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson in a news release. “On New York City Missing Persons Day, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner convenes specialized resources to help those affected by the uniquely challenging experience of a missing loved one.”


More than 13,000 people were reported missing in New York City last year, and at least 200 children were reported as missing long term, or more than 60 days.

Several of these events have taken place around the country in recent years. The New York City Missing Persons Day will feature, among support services, a display of forensic art that will contain about 30 facial reconstructions of cold missing persons cases.