Lawmakers Consider Forensic Database For Missing Children

Grandfather Hopes His Search Will Change State Law

When his 14-year-old granddaughter disappeared in 2003, Don Abbott learned the anguish that parents of missing children feel.

"Parents and grandparents never give up on a missing child," Abbott told 6News' Tanya Spencer. "The gnawing in your heart, the anguish, wondering, crying, praying at night, unable to sleep wondering if they have food, if they have clothing."

Abbott had his granddaughter's DNA and fingerprints, but he soon learned they were of no help. Currently, DNA and fingerprints can only be used to identify convicted felons or human remains.

Abbott went to the Indiana Statehouse on Thursday, asking lawmakers to create a forensic database for missing children -- one that would allow parents to voluntarily enter their child's DNA into the system.

One state police officer argued such a database wouldn't work, because police can't collect DNA from someone on the street who they think may be a missing person. Still, state police say identification kits for kids are of value.

"It's a good program," Maj. Ed Littlejohn said. "But I think parents think that DNA is the magic bullet, that they're going to give the information to somebody and they're going to say, 'This is where my child's at.' And it's not going to happen."

Abbott's story has a happy ending. He found his granddaughter, who had run away, after nearly two years.

Abbot said he believes changing state law can spare other parents the pain he experienced. He believes if Indiana establishes a forensic database for missing children, other states will follow suit.

Thursday was the first meeting of the state legislature's Interim Study Committee on Missing Children.

Print this article Back to Top