Doing useful forensic work doesn’t always require a scientific or technical background. Some very important forensic work involves professional genealogists who are experts in people search and public record research.
When police departments have deceased person cases, where they know the identity of the person, but do not know who or where the family members are, they often use the search services of forensic genealogists.
Police detectives are skilled at finding out how and when a person died as well as the identity of the deceased, but, due to heavy caseloads, they are often unable to find family members, many of whom are estranged from the deceased person.
That’s when they call upon the people search and public records skills of forensic genealogists. Forensic genealogists are often retirees who offer their family search skills to overburdened police investigators and detectives free of charge.
Forensic genealogists are usually people that have a lot of experience working on family trees for themselves and other people. Once they get really good at genealogy research, some expert genealogists decide to focus exclusively on forensic genealogy.
Forensic genealogy work can be very tedious and time consuming. It usually takes a forensic genealogist anywhere from a few hours to several weeks to close a family search case. However, these special people search cases are often solved with a +90 percent success rate.
Forensic genealogy is usually much more complicated than working on a family tree, since often times none of the people in the family are known before you start searching. As is usually the case in forensic genealogy, the deceased can be a homeless person or transient who is estranged from their family members.
Working on forensic people search cases like these can be difficult because very often the only pieces of information that the genealogist is given are the name, sex, race, date of birth and Social Security number for the deceased person. If they are lucky, they may get the names for the parents of the deceased person as well.
Professional genealogists who find family members for police departments use a number of online tools to search for people, including: Google, Facebook and other social media sites, government public record databases, people search sites and other paid database searches.
After a forensic genealogist finds any likely family members, the information is turned over to the police to make the phone calls. DNA tests can then be used to confirm the identity of any found relatives.
Although forensic genealogists are generally not paid for their time and work, many of them are addicted to the thrill, excitement and mystery involved in the search for unknown people. The work can be like a giant game of skill for people who take on the job.
You can find out more about forensic genealogy or locate a professional forensic genealogist with a Google search or through organizations like the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy.