By Nina Moini

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is making a call to families of the missing.

Forensic scientists with the state recently obtained federal funding to test more human remains against the missing persons database.

In order to identify these people, the BCA hopes more family members of the missing will volunteer their DNA in a series of collection events across the state during July.

While testing bones for DNA is technical work that happens inside of a laboratory, BCA Deputy Superintendent of Forensic Science Services Catherine Knutson said her team treats the situation sensitively.

“The procedure is relatively personal,” Knutson said. “We are dealing with remains here and they treat them with the respect that they deserve.”

The BCA believes remains from five unknown people exhumed last year in Minnesota have a strong chance of being identified through their DNA profiles, but they need families with missing loved ones to come forward to find a match.

“Many of these people were discovered decades ago before DNA testing was available,” BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said. “That’s why we are hosting a series of opportunities for families to offer DNA samples for comparison with those in the national missing person’s database.”

Evans said there are 100 unidentified remains in Minnesota, currently 550 people missing at any time in the state and 11,000 people reported missing each year. The hope is that by growing the DNA data base for relatives of the missing, they can identify more remains.

DNA samples take about one minute and involves a swab of the cheek. People can’t just mail them in, because the BCA wants to make sure the DNA is from the correct person.

For information on attending an event, click here.

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