On Your Side Investigation: Missouri not required to use national missing persons database

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 4:54 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 9:47 PM CDT
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(KY3) - When a person goes missing, you expect to see their face and information everywhere. An On Your Side Investigation reveals not all of Missouri’s missing are reported to a national database aimed at finding them.

NamUs is the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. It’s a federal database created to help solve these cases.

As of Thursday, Only 418 of Missouri’s 597 missing person cases are in NamUs, which stores identification information like DNA, dental records, and fingerprints. Thirteen states, including Arkansas, passed legislation mandating law enforcement to use NamUs. Missouri does not require it. The database is touted as ‘a vital tool for investigators’ and helped solve ‘more than 2,700 missing persons cases.’

There’s a Pulaski County family missing their husband and father. They had no idea about this database until we told them.

“He’s a great dad. A great husband. He can make me laugh on my worst days,” said Alysha Hoye.

Almost one year has passed since Alysha Hoye hugged her husband, Chris.

“I hear him leave. And I run in here,” said Hoye. “And I asked his son where daddy went. And he said, ‘I don’t know. He told me to go to my room.”

She panicked.

“I had a friend come over, and I’m like, I have to go check the river. I don’t know why, but I have to go check the river. So I go there, and I find his truck. It has the keys, and I walk the woods as much as I can until dusk,” said Hoye.

Deputies searched the water and woods. No signs of Chris.

“I don’t think he was suicidal. I don’t think he killed himself. But I don’t know. And that not knowing is what was killing me,” she said.

He did not take his phone, computer, or even his wallet.

“I’m lost. I don’t know how many times I’ve been out in the woods, just me looking for my husband,” she said.

On Your Side told Hoye her husband’s info was not on NamUs.

“I feel like he’s alive. And then if more people knew he was missing, it would bring him home,” she said.

Detective Paul Morton with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office thinks Chris Hoye will be found.

“Eventually, he should pop up somewhere. At this point, we don’t have any reason to believe otherwise. So he should be showing up here soon,” said Morton.

Ashley Reynolds asked Morton if he uses NamUs.

“I believe we’ve had used it in the past, but at this point, I personally haven’t used it,” he said.

On Your Side received the same response from Springfield Police. Officers we talked to use NCIC, the National Crime Information Center.

“That information then goes out right away to local law enforcement agencies. For instance, if I ran somebody’s name, entered it into that system, it would then receive a hit that this person has been reported missing,” said Lt. Jennifer Charleston with the Springfield Police Department.

It’s a resource for officers. On NamUs, anyone can see the missing. But again, Missouri is not required to use it.

“So how do we get that? How do we do it?” asked Hoye.

On Your Side asked that question to the Missouri Attorney General.

“That’s a decision that General Assembly is going to have to make. Participation in federal databases, by statute, requires action by the General Assembly,” said Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey.

A simple search shows there are no bills in this session about NamUs.

“We need to make efforts to find missing people. I think there’s some reluctance in the state of Missouri to participate in some federal databases because you don’t always know where that information goes. So it’s a balance between the privacy of individuals and what the government is doing with the information while still protecting victims and making sure that missing people are found, and people are protected,” said Bailey.

On the NamUs website, it reads it’s free and secure.

The Arkansas Attorney General sent On Your Side this statement.

“NamUs provides the opportunity for Arkansas law enforcement to get family DNA entered into a national database, so that it provides more avenues to get answers for Arkansas families, as not all missing persons remain in the state where they were last seen.”

“He lived in several states. Illinois and some other states. So he does have contacts everywhere in this region,” said Morton.

After On Your Side told Hoye that Chris was not in the database, she got to work. She submitted the information. It was verified and now Chris has this profile.

“I pray he’ll eventually contact me,” she said.

Family and friends can give NamUs photos and describe their missing loved one. That information is vetted. Then it’s published in the database.

There are hundreds of missing person cases from Missouri on NamUs. Some detectives do go in and enter them even though they aren’t required to by state law. For example, Springfield police have entered dozens, including the three missing women.

On Your Side will continue to follow this. We’ll let you know if there’s a bill proposed to require Missouri law enforcement to use NamUs.

If you have any information about the disappearance of Chris Hoye, contact the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office at (573) 774-6196

On Your Side repeatedly asked NamUs leaders for an interview. A spokesperson tells us they require questions before interviews. KY3 News has a policy not to send questions before interviews.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com