Texas Forensic Science Commission
In response to growing concerns about the unidentified remains of migrants and other deceased individuals found near the Texas border with Mexico, the 84th Texas Legislature required the Texas Forensic Science Commission to develop a method for collecting forensic evidence related to the unidentified bodies located less than 120 miles from the Rio Grande River. See Tex. S.B. 1287, 84th Leg., R.S. (2015).
In accordance with its legislative mandate, the Commission is working with stakeholders to develop a systematic plan for proper forensic evidence collection of biological material that may help identify the individuals found along the border.
The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification has a longstanding relationship with medical examiners and pathologists in South Texas and provides anthropological services to assist in identifying missing persons found near border counties. For information on the anthropological work the Center has completed in the Texas border region, see their report, Texas Border Region: Analysis and Identification of Unidentified Human Remains, Texas Missing Persons DNA Database Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology (2010 through 2016).
The Center has agreed to work with the Commission and other stakeholders, including Texas State University, Baylor University, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Office of the Governor, the FBI, human rights advocacy groups and local law enforcement partners in developing a process for the collection and testing of forensic evidence related to unidentified remains currently awaiting anthropological exams and unidentified remains that may be discovered in the future.
On September 28, 2015 the Commission hosted a collaborative session with stakeholders in Edinburg, Texas to develop a strategy for the processing and identification of human remains. The goal for the session was to begin establishing best practices in Texas for subsequent publication and dissemination.
For questions and inquiries about the Commission’s Rio Grande Identification Project, please contact Lynn Garcia toll-free at 1 (888) 296-4232 or Leigh@fsc.texas.gov.
Para preguntas en español por favor llame a Lynn Garcia al 1 (888) 296-4232 o Lynn.Garcia@fsc.texas.gov.