This article was first published in 2019.

Between 14,000 and 16,000 people are reported missing in New Jersey every year. And every year, about 99% of these individuals are recovered.

But that pleasant statistic doesn't do much for the loved ones of the 1,000-plus missing persons whose cases have gone unsolved, dating as far back as 1969.

Offering a one-stop resource center for families and friends of the missing, the New Jersey State Police has held annual Missing in New Jersey events where they can provide biometric data, such as fingerprints, dental records or body X-rays, which would be used to help link them to solve missing persons cases and unidentified human remains.

"It's an event that's designed for the family to come and understand that they're not alone in this, as well as provide information that will lead to the recovery of their missing loved one," Detective Sgt. 1st Class Joel Trella said.

There are more than 300 investigations of unidentified human remains; they may make up a portion of the more than 1,000 unsolved missing persons cases statewide.

Through the first event in 2017, DNA samples offered by a woman in attendance helped identify her brother who had unfortunately passed seven years prior in Florida, Trella said. In 2018, the event helped reunite a woman who hadn't seen her brother in five years.

"We want people to understand that this event is for them and we don't use any of the information for other crimes," Trella said. "So if they do submit DNA, it only looks for mising people."

The events are free to attend and require no ID at the door.

Trella added that individuals who are unsure about their own origins or background can submit DNA that could be linked to an unidentified child abduction case.

Gone for years: NJ's longest-missing people

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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