Ohio Missing Persons Day aims to ensure loved ones aren’t forgotten

The Columbus Dispatch | Holly Zachariah

Dana Forney points to the clay head that rests on a table behind her and can’t quite stop the quiver in her voice as she explains why the macabre display is there.

“Somebody out there somewhere knows who she is,” said Forney, a supervisor in the Criminal Intelligence Unit of the Ohio attorney general’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. “Somebody out there once loved her. We need to find them.”

Then she points to the poster behind her in the office, the one with dozens of faces eerily staring back at her.

“They are parents and sons and sisters and friends,” she said. “And they are all somewhere.”

The clay head is a model made from a scan of one of the 107 sets of remains found over the years across Ohio that are still unidentified and unclaimed, but for which an anthropologist has been able to indicate some age and characteristic identifiers. And the faces on the poster are some of the 1,357 adults and children listed as missing in Ohio as of 5 p.m. Thursday…

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said advances in DNA testing, forensics and sketching and sculpting unidentified remains all should make solving cases easier for BCI’s Missing Persons Unit. But too often, those who love someone who disappears are reluctant to make a report. That’s troublesome because time is of the essence for investigators.

“Missing-persons cases can be especially frustrating because you don’t know if the person just got tired of their life and moved to Tucson or whether something more terrible was done to them by some bad actor,” Yost said. “To not know what happened … it starts to suck the life out of families.”

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