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New law takes effect in July aimed at solving missing persons cases

Posted: 11:17 PM, Apr 18, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-19 10:45:00-04

Starting in July, law enforcement agencies in Michigan will have to input missing persons cases into a national database called NaMus, which is the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

Governor Rick Snyder recently signed it into law. The goal is to help police solve more missing persons cases.

Julia Guy, whose brother is missing, says she's hopeful it will lead to quicker resolution for families like her's. Her brother, Frinnie Williamson, has been missing since the fall of 2016.

"It's so hard .. it's just mentally so hard ... when you love somebody that's lost," she says.

She believes Frinnie was last seen in the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit.

She says Frinnie was a loving brother, father and talented artist, but he struggled with cocaine addiction for years.

She says, "My heart tells me he's no longer here because he would have called me by now. My hope is to discover what happened to him. Is he still with us? Is he in heaven? Did he overdose? Was he killed?"

Frinnie Williamson's case is among hundreds in Michigan that are part of the national database, NaMus.

It's not widely used, but starting in July, anytime a Michigan police agency takes a missing person's case, and after a preliminary investigation, they must input it into NaMus immediately. 

Julia Guy says, "I'm very hopeful .. it broadens the base to help the families so much."

Det. Sgt. Sarah Krebs with Michigan State Police says, "It's really gonna change the nature of how law enforcement investigates these cases because this database is publicly accessible."

Krebs recently testified before lawmakers in support of NaMus.

She says, "It really makes sense to have public involvement in those cases because you are looking for somebody .. and the more eyes out looking for them, the better."

She says the system used now doesn't allow for photos to be entered and none of it is publicly accessible, but with NaMus, "There are spots in the database to collect dental records, fingerprint information, DNA information .. and a lot of images."

While much of that can't be viewed by the public, Krebs says anyone can see if law enforcement has collected that information.

The public can also view the missing person's profile, share it on social media and check for updates.

It can also create a missing persons poster which can be printed.

Krebs says it also compares the records of unidentified remains to missing people.

"It will give you a list of possibilities on the unidentified side. With the capability, having all law enforcement using it, what a better database it would be .. and how many more cases that we could solve," says Krebs.

The new law doesn't address unidentified remains or cases that were already entered into the other database, but Det. Sgt. Krebs hopes once law enforcement agencies see the capabilities of NaMus, they'll volunteer to put all their missing persons cases from the past into it.

If you'd like to visit the NamUs website, go to  https://namus.gov/