DNA helps state police identify remains of 2 missing teenagers

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LANSING, Mich. — A new Michigan State Police unit that is focused on identifying previously unidentified John and Jane Does is being credited with two recent identifications of missing 14-year-old girls.

While the cases have no connection to one another, they are some of the first successes of the newly created MSP Missing Persons Coordination Unit that seeks to provide closure to families impacted by the disappearance of a loved one.

The first case began in 1979, when 14-year-old Carla Tucker (left picture) was last seen by a family member walking to the grocery store. Although a missing persons report was filed, Tucker was never seen again. Her family, however, never stopped searching.

In August 2014, Tucker’s family approached employees from the MSP’s newly-formed MPCU with their case. The MPCU assisted with getting the case rereported to the Detroit Police Department, who then helped by submitting family reference DNA from Tucker’s biological relatives.

Also in 2014, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department was interested in solving a 1992 unidentified remains case in which a young girl’s body was found in a landfill in Carleton. The body was encased in a 55-gallon drum that came to the landfill from Detroit, and the cause of death was determined to be homicide. Monroe County detectives submitted DNA samples from the body, which had been kept in evidence.

The University of North Texas’ Human Identification Lab was utilized to process the DNA samples from both Tucker’s relatives and the unidentified body. In February, the two samples were linked together identifying Tucker as the female found in Carleton. The DPD Homicide Unit is now investigating the case. Tips can be forwarded to DPD Det. Michael Russell at (313) 596-2284.

The second case started in October 2014, with funding from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, MSP, the Detroit FBI and DPD exhumed several bodies of unidentified remains cases in an effort to determine their identities. The remains were buried decades ago in pauper’s graves at United Memorial Cemetery in Plymouth.

A DNA hit on one of the bodies confirmed it was 14-year-old Bina Emery (right picture), who disappeared in Detroit in February 1988.

It turns out that Emery’s body had been found in the Detroit River in July 1988, but was never identified. Her manner of death was “undetermined.”

Emery’s mother attended the 2014 Missing in Michigan event at U of M Flint, where she provided her family reference DNA in an effort to find her missing daughter. This action eventually led to the identification.

Anyone searching for a missing loved one is encouraged to attend Missing in Michigan — a free DNA collection event – from 1-5 p.m. May 16 at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. The event will provide an opportunity to remember the missing people from our communities and network to bring them home.

Visit www.michigan.gov/missinginmichigan on the Web for more information.

For more information on what do when someone disappears, how to search for a missing person or to submit a tip about a missing person, visit http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,1607,7-123-1589_31786_32000—,00.html on the Web.

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