FBI, Detroit police dig for DNA samples at Canton cemetery in missing persons investigation

Posted at 4:06 PM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-22 23:32:39-04

CANTON, Mich. (WXYZ) — The FBI is currently assisting the Detroit Police Department with an investigation at Canton's Knollwood Memorial Park Cemetery, 1299 Ridge Road North.

Officers started digging at the cemetery Wednesday morning as part of an investigation into an unidentified persons case. Investigators are taking DNA samples from bodies.

Assisting with the investigation are the Detroit police, Michigan State Police and federal partners, including the FBI.

According to a release from DPD, Wednesday was the launch of Operation UNITED, which stands for Unknown Names Identified Through Exhumation and DNA. The program aims to utilize new technologies to identify unknown victims.

Police say that by using nex technology for exhumation and DNA gathering, they'll be able to "focus on victims of homicide dating back to 1959 that currently do not have DNA on file."

Operation UNITED will take place over the next few months in an effort to identified unidentified victims, police say. After the DNA is collected, it will be sent to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS). There is will be processed at their Human Identification Lab and information will be uploaded into a DNA index system, including the FBI's National DNA Index System (NDIS) to be searched against a list of all missing persons.

In an unrelated investigation, services at Knollwood were suspended in December 2018 after more than 300 fetuses and infant remains were found on the property.

The December investigation found that Knollwood Memorial Park Cemetery allegedly improperly stored remains of more than 300 infants and fetuses in multiple crypts.

If you are the family member of a missing loved one, Detroit police are asking that you submit DNA to help identify the victims.