New Jersey State Police make push to solve missing person cases

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NJ State Police crackdown to find missing people. Nora Muchanic reports during Action News at 4:30 p.m. on May 17, 2017. (WPVI)

New Jersey state police are holding an event in hopes of finding missing people.

Jill Jones of Franklinville has lived her entire life wondering what happened to her brother, Billy.

She was two and he was three when, in 1962, he disappeared near their home in Vineland and was never seen again.

"It's like, if you had a family member that passed away, do you forget about them? Do you still miss them? Still love them? It's the same thing, except I don't have a conclusion," said Jones.

State police are hoping to find conclusions for families like Jill's. This weekend, they are hosting a first ever 'Missing in New Jersey' event at Rutgers.

"The purpose of the event is to try to solve our unidentified deceased and our long-term missing. Also what we're trying to do is let families know, who are going through this, that they are not alone," Lt. Louis Andrinopoulos of NJSP Missing Persons Unit said.

There are 1,100 long-term missing in New Jersey and 325 bodies that have never been identified.

Family who come to the event will be asked to bring photos, fingerprints, dental records, x-rays and give a DNA sample that can be checked against national databases.

"DNA has been very helpful in identifying some of these cases that are very old, very old cases and they've been very helpful because we can do DNA on bones and teeth," Donna Fontana of NJSP Forensic Anthropologist said.

State police say around 15,000 people go missing every year in New Jersey. Most are found, but others , like 11-year-old Mark Himebaugh - who disappeared 25 years ago in Lower Township - are not.

His mother Maureen will be the keynote speaker at the event.

"I'm hoping that it will help other families that have lost children, because in my case it's been 25 years, and I know it's comforting to hear from someone else who has lost a child," Maureen Himebaugh, mother of missing child said.

Police say similar events like this in Michigan have helped to identify about 70 people.

"We do hope to solve some cases, we do believe in our hearts that we truly will. These people have not been forgotten," said Andrinopoulos.
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