WASHINGTON, July 21 (UPI) -- A new U.S. database is seeking to identify the remains of thousands of dead people, some of whom have remained mysteries for decades, officials say.
The online system, called NamUs, is operated by the U.S. Department of Justice's National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Officials hope to attach names to the many John and Jane Does whose remains are housed in morgues and police forensic labs across the country, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The newspaper said the system is open for use by police, medical examiners and coroners, as well as family members.
"Instead of having this fragmented system where people go to coroners, to medical examiners, to law enforcement, we have everything in a central repository," Kristina Rose, acting director of the National Institute of Justice, told the Post. "People can participate in identifying their loved ones. They are the ones who are going to work late into the night to go through the case files."
A 2007 federal report indicated that 4,400 sets of unidentified human remains surface each year, though most cases are eventually solved. The estimated total number of unidentified remains varies from 13,500 to 40,000, the Post reported.