Unidentified Persons

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. 

For information on possible matches on Unidentified Persons, contact the Institute at:

(832) 927-5000

For individuals who need to report a missing loved one, please contact your local law enforcement agency.
Only a law enforcement agency can initiate a regional and national search for unidentified persons.


The National Institute of Justice's National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)

NamUs is a national, centralized repository and resource center for missing persons. It is a bilingual, free online system searchable by law enforcement officials, medical examiner personnel and the general public in hopes of resolving these cases. NameUs also provides free DNA testing and other forensic services such as anthropology and odontology assistance. Click the image to the left to visit their site.

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

The Forensic Services Unit assists law enforcement and medical examiners on cases of unidentified children. They will identify and coordinate field and forensic resources, provide analytical resources, case strategies, and opportunities to leverage current media trends to develop valuable leads. Click the image to the right to visit their site.

Other useful links: