OGDEN -- The Ogden Police Department has identified the body of a man found dead in 1994.
A news release states John Edwin Duff, 27 at the time of his death, was found dead after a fire at an abandoned home at 119 W. 29th St. in October 1994. Investigators determined no foul play was involved, but they were unable at the time to identify the body of Duff, who is believed to have been taking shelter in the home.
In April, the Ogden PD Major Crimes Unit reopened the investigation when new information in the case was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, also known as NamUs, the release states. With the help of the Utah State Crime Lab, Sgt. Tim Scott matched the body's fingerprints with Duff, whose family had reported him missing in 1995 in Oregon. Authorities have notified Duff's family.
Ogden Police Lt. Danielle Croyle said it's important for the department to always be vigilant about looking for any new breaks in cold cases.
"I'm a proponent of looking at cold case info," she said. "There are always families who don't have closure, and that is one reason we've made a conscious effort to revisit cold cases."
Croyle said new investigation techniques have changed the way officials approach cold cases, and NamUs has given Ogden investigators a valuable resource to solve them.
"It is essential," she said. "We keep current on (NamUs), and using it is another tool to look at cold cases and match them."
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, NamUs was developed in 2005 as a way to improve the quality and quantity of information on missing persons. Nationally, unidentified bodies of 4,400 people are found each year, and 1,000 of them remain unidentified after one year.
In 2004, the Department of Justice found that more than half the nation's medical examiner's offices did not have a policy on how to keep records for those unidentified bodies, but
NamUs has changed that. As of August 2012, 11,390 missing person cases have been reported to NamUs, and 3,499 have been solved. Of the solved cases, 740 involved unidentified remains.
Though some information on
NamUs is private and available only to investigators, the public can access the database at namus.gov.