DeKalb County DNA drive aims to crack cold cases

The DeKalb County Medical Examiner's Office investigates more than 3,000 deaths a year. Unfortunately, a handful of those people are not identified, so their families do not get closure. Officials have a cold case task force that will have a DNA drive this weekend. 

There are currently 27 unidentified cases in DeKalb County. Dr. Pat Bailey, the director of the DeKalb County Medical Examiner's Office, says these people could be your co-workers, neighbors, or someone you might have seen often but now assume has moved away. 

"We work upwards of 3,000 deaths per year. Every single case is important to us," said Dr. Bailey. 

Death can be very traumatic, particularly if it involves foul play or was unexpected. 

Most families get word of their loved one's demise and start processing it but in some cases, the person cannot be identified due to skeleton remains, decomposition of the body, or lack of identification. 

"Once you reach a point where you exhaust all leads, some may call it a cold case and let it be, but with science and technology evolving, we are not at first to reaching out and seeing what can assist us with moving those cases along," said Dr. Bailey. 

The director says a forensic artist creates renderings that give an idea of what the person looks like. That image is then circulated on social and conventional media in hopes of generating information. 

The county will host a Missing Persons Event & DNA Drive event this weekend. 

"If you've got family members that you hadn't seen for a while, or think they may have, you're not certain, please come out. You can actually file a missing person's report on that specific day," the director said. 

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston's office secured the grant to fund the task force. 

"It allows us the funds to do this very cutting-edge costly work on these cases. To date, we have identified six people," Senior Assistant DA Shannon Hodder explains. 

DeKalb County's Missing Persons Event & DNA Drive event will take place Saturday during the Good Neighbor Day Air Show at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport