Family members of missing persons provide DNA samples to help fi

Family members of missing persons provide DNA samples to help find them

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The more DNA collected, the better chance there is of making an identification. The more DNA collected, the better chance there is of making an identification.
"This may be the last option that they have and if we can provide one family with just one answer, then it's worth it," said Dobbs. "This may be the last option that they have and if we can provide one family with just one answer, then it's worth it," said Dobbs.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Local families whose loved ones have gone missing got a chance Saturday to try and help find them.

The Knoxville Police Department and Knox County Sheriff's Office teamed up for a DNA Collection Day.

With 994 known missing persons cases in the state of Tennessee, they hope to answer the question some families have been asking for a long time.

Where are they?

"There's not a day goes by you don't think about her," said Angela Swann of Dandridge.

Swann hasn't seen her sister Vicky Burross in almost a year.

"We have no idea. Haven't heard one word since January the 8th," said Swann.

She says wondering constantly about what happened to her is the worst.

"It's been rough. We've had a hard time. She has a little boy. The whole family. It just affects everybody. It's really hard," she said.

That's why Swann and her brother made the trip from Dandridge to Knoxville for the DNA Collection event.

"Wanting something. Anything. At this point we'd take any kind of information," said Swann.

Information about missing loved ones goes into a nationwide database, called The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs.

"The height, the weight, when they were last seen. If they can bring in any medical records or medical history. Those are things that we can add in there as well," said Forensics Officer Amy Dobbs, with the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

But they say the DNA swab provided by family members, like Angela Swann, is the most important.

It'll be compared to the estimated 40,000 unidentified remains in the United States.

"DNA is concrete and sometimes that's the last thing that we have to try and make that connection," said Dobbs.

The more DNA collected, the better chance there is of making an identification.

"It's an answer. It's an answer of what happened to their loved one," said Dobbs.

Authorities hope finding a match could provide family members with some relief.

"This may be the last option that they have and if we can provide one family with just one answer, then it's worth it," said Dobbs.

Angela Swann hopes her family will hear something, anything, soon.

"Give us some closure. Maybe. If they find anything. That's about all we could hope for if they give us some closure," said Swann.

Today's event was the first ever DNA Collection Day in Knoxville.

They'll be hosting another one in the coming months.

It's completely free to participate.

For more information, contact the Knox Count Sheriff's Office at 865-215-2444.

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