SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) -There's a mystery inside the medical examiners office. Boxes and boxes of unidentified bones are there, and the Utah State Medical Examiner has no shortage of them.
Right now, they have more than 50 boxes of unidentified human remains. Investigators are working to find out who they are through a fairly new system called NamUs.
"It’s a smart system. It tries to match the missing people with the unidentified people,” says investigator Jill Haslam.
When a new case comes in, it’s assigned to an investigator. At that point, the medical examiner looks it over. Then a forensic anthropologist looks for clues within the bones like possible disease or past surgeries. Finally a forensic orthodontist looks over the teeth.
"We try to get as much information as possible and get those cases entered into NamUs as well," Haslam said.
Some of the cases date all the way back to the 60s. But these bones don't just sit in a box. Every one gets a fresh set of eyes.
"Over the past 2 years we've had our forensic anthropologist take a second look at those remains," Haslam said.
It's obviously a tedious process for these investigators, but they know solving the cases is important for giving Utah families closure.
"We want these people to be identified, at one time they had family members, people who loved them, friends and we're trying to make sure that those people have a chance to know what happened to their loved one and have a chance to say goodbye," Haslam said.
The unidentified people who come in with skin intact also get fingerprinted.
Investigators rerun those prints on a regular basis. Not long ago, it paid off. They got a match that solved one of their cases.