The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences works to identify and reunite families with deceased individuals received by the Institute. For those decedents who are unable to be identified, the Institute utilizes the National Missing and Unidentified Person System (NamUs) database to assist with identification. The NamUs website generates a unique case number for each decedent and features descriptions of the deceased, including any available photos of the deceased or their personal belongings; demographics (estimated age, race, sex and stature); scars, marks, tattoos; and personal items found on or near the deceased individual. Other descriptors are estimated using pathologic, anthropologic, and dental findings.
To search NamUs for Unidentified persons go to the Unidentified Persons Search: https://www.namus.gov/UnidentifiedPersons/Search. There are many search options available. To geographically narrow the search to Harris County, TX, scroll down to “Circumstances” and “Location Found;” enter “Texas” into the State box and “Harris County” into the County box. Possible matches should not be excluded based on a strict comparison with the estimates and information provided. For example, if the unidentified person listed in NamUs is estimated to be 40-60 years old, a missing person who is 38 years old should not be excluded as a match.
The Institute also creates pages within NamUs for unclaimed decedents. These are individuals for whom we are unable to locate Next of Kin. To search the NamUs Unclaimed database go to: https://www.namus.gov/UnclaimedPersons/Search. A search by decedent name or by geographic location is also possible with this search.