Friday, February 27, 2015

Seeking Relatives of Unclaimed Persons

A person dies. No one knows how to reach the family. The coroner’s investigators have exhausted their resources. That’s when Unclaimed Persons starts to work.”

It sounds like opening line from a forensic program on TV, but Unclaimed Persons is a real group made up of volunteers who combine their love and understanding of genealogy research with investigative research techniques to try and locate the next of kin for those who have died without any one to claim them.

These aren’t necessarily people who have not been identified; rather it’s their family – their next of kin that are unknown. Although there are also those who have used a false identity, or several, and died without their actual identity known.

So how does Unclaimed Persons (UP) work?
1) A coroner’s office will send information to Unclaimed Persons. A submission  form can be filled out on line, or the coroner’s office can provide specifics in their standard format.
2) A case manager with the UP group will assign a case number to the submission.
3) The case manager then forwards the information to a case administrator, labeling it as an “active case.”
4) A conversational thread between volunteers and readers begins. (It is these conversations that usually bring about the discovery of those elusive next of kin.)
5) Information is investigated by UP volunteers using their genealogy research techniques. A social security application may be ordered to assist with difficult cases.

6) Findings are submitted to a UP case administrator who reviews the information.
7) That administrator will then submit the findings to the case manager.
8) The case manager will prepare a report that goes to the submitting coroner’s office.
9) And hopefully, the coroner’s office will share the outcome of the case (without violating anyone’s privacy) with the Unclaimed Persons group.

If the deceased has already been interred, the next of kin will be given the option of having the remains disinterred and moved. If the body was cremated and the ashes scattered, the next of kin will be given that information.

There is no set period of time for a case to be solved. A case can be returned to the group for a second attempt if the information did not produce the necessary resolution or if the relatives express no interest in getting involved.

In the past six years, since Unclaimed Persons began, volunteers have solved hundreds of cases.

If you would like to volunteer your time and expertise in assisting to help locate "missing" family members, contact Unclaimed Persons on their Facebook page. "Every life is worth remembering."

~ Joy

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