Frequently Asked Questions

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Medical Examiner

Missing Persons and Unidentified Human Remains

How do I report a Missing Person?

The State Medical Examiner’s Office is not able to accept missing person reports. If you need to report someone missing, please contact local law enforcement in the area in which the person was last seen. Alternately, you may contact the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. Missing persons data may be entered into NamUs provided a report has been filed with law enforcement and the case can be validated before case details are published online.

What do I do if I discover human remains?

If you should discover human remains, please call law enforcement. The notified agency should contact the county medical examiner investigator, who will perform a scene investigation and subsequently refer the case to the State Medical Examiner’s Office. All human remains discoveries ultimately fall under the jurisdiction of the State Medical Examiner and must be transported to the SMEO for further examination and analysis.

What happens to unidentified human remains?

Prior to the establishment of the State Medical Examiner’s Office, the remains of some unidentified individuals were interred in cemeteries located in the jurisdiction in which their remains were discovered. Currently, unidentified remains are stored at the state facility in Pearl, MS. If the State Medical Examiner cannot make a positive identification, the remains will be retained at the SMEO until an identification can be made.

Amber Alert

Amber Alert

Are resources available that would assist local law enforcement agencies to develop a missing child response plan?

Yes. The National Center for Missing and Expoited Children publishes “Missing and Abducted Children: A Guide to Case Investigation and Program Management.” Law Enforcement should click on the “Related Links” button on the left to request a copy. Also, the FBI publishes “Child Abduction Response Plan.” Law Enforcement should call (540) 720-4700 to request a copy.

Mississippi Forensics Laboratory

Mississippi Forensics Laboratory

What allows and examiner to say that a projectile or cartridge case was fired in a specific firearm?

An examiner relies on two types of characteristics when performing comparisons, class and individual characteristics. Class characteristics are common to a group of firearms and are determined by the manufacturer. Class characteristics include caliber, number of lands and grooves, direction of twist of the lands and grooves and the widths of the lands and grooves. Individual characteristics are the markings that are unique to a particular firearm and allow an examiner to say that a projectile or cartridge case was fired in a specific firearm.

Can you determine from what type of firearm a projectile or cartridge case was fired?

Yes, using the class characteristics described above, it is possible to give investigators possible firearms that could be involved.

Are comparison matches positive?

Yes. As in fingerprints, no two firearms share the same individual characteristics.

Are there any examinations that can be performed on shotguns and their fired components?

Yes, there are several examinations that can be performed on evidence involving a shotgun. The hull itself can be compared in the same manner as a cartridge case to determine if it was discharged in the submitted firearm. The pellets and waddings can be examined to determine the shot size and potential wad manufacturers.

What items are necessary for a distance determination?

If a distance determination is requested, the firearm involved, ammunition used and a garment must be submitted.

Should a firearm be unloaded for submission to the laboratory?