WASHINGTON D.C. (News4Utah)- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is on the frontline of the fight to protect our most vulnerable and provide closure to families.
Lakisha Jones vanished almost 20 years ago. Colin McNally works as supervisor for the Forensic Imaging Unit at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It’s his job to try and show the world what Jones would look like today.
“When you work on these cases, you really do become attached to them,” McNally said.
The Jones case is one of nearly 7,000 age progressions crafted by the unit but with technology their abilities to new heights.
“For us, our greatest tool is heredity — seeing what commonalities among family members — share with the missing child,” said McNally.
On the other side of the unit, a robotic arm is used to recreate facial features from the remains of an unidentified child.
“The hope is to be able to provide answers to families–many of whom have been searching for their children for many years,” he said.
The center first opened its doors in 1984 and since then it’s become a valuable tool to law enforcement across the country.
This week a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill to reauthorize $40 million a year in funding for the center — saying its on the frontlines of protecting vulnerable children.
Robert Lowery oversees the center’s Missing Children Division. He’s using the money to expand rapid response teams that deploy when a child goes missing.
“We have search experts that are to their availability or any unique thing that might come up,” Lowery said.
Lowery says he believes they’re making progress. Child abductions are less frequent, and the number of missing children cases has been cut in half over the last 35 years. But there is much work to be done to bring closure to more families and communities.