Nonprofit working with state to ID child’s remains

SMYRNA — A national nonprofit known for its work helping to find and identify missing children is working with Delaware officials investigating a child’s remains found in Smyrna last week.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is assisting state officials in hopefully solving the mystery regarding the identity of the deceased.

Little information has been publicly released about the remains, although police have said they likely came from someone less than 10 years old.
The body was found Sept. 13 near the Little Lass softball fields on Duck Creek Parkway by a person walking with a dog.

A Smyrna Police Department spokesman said there was no update on the case Friday.
While officials at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children were unable to be reached for comment beyond confirming the work with the state, the nonprofit’s website offers a glimpse at what investigators may glean from its assistance.

Among the center’s specialties is offering “forensic and direct on-site technical assistance and consultation to families, law enforcement agencies, child-serving professionals, and nongovernmental organizations in child abduction and exploitation cases, including facial reconstruction of skeletal remains and similar techniques to assist in the identification of unidentified deceased children.”

The center partnered with law enforcement and families in more than 25,000 missing children cases in 2018 alone, according to its website.
The nonprofit says it has “age-progressed more than 6,800 images of long-term missing children and created more than 540 facial reconstructions for unidentified deceased children.” It is currently helping in more than 700 cases involving the remains of an unknown child and has played a role in identifying remains on 143 occasions.

Founded in 1984, the center has offices in New York, Florida, Texas and California.

The Smyrna case has received national attention, and authorities are expanding their net. One theory — the body is that of a young girl who was recently reported missing in New Jersey — quickly proved to be wrong due to timeline.

Police have previously said the remains, which were found in a grassy, wooded area by Duck Creek Pond, were “kind of disguised, but not completely hidden.”

Anyone with any possible leads is urged to call Detective Brien Street at 653-9217.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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