Families of missing people who vanished without a trace from Bristol County in the past 50 years may finally get some answers.

The county District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that it will be expanding the scope of its cold case unit to include unsolved missing persons cases from the 1970s until today.

According to a release from the office, the new initiative comes in conjunction with an effort to identify unidentified bodies that was announced earlier this year.

WBSM-AM/AM 1420 logo
Get our free mobile app

Many people have been listed as missing for years with no clues as to what happened to them, according to the release.

An office spokesperson told WBSM News that most missing person cases have historically been reported piecemeal to local police departments — so this is an effort to bring the information all together into a county-wide database.

The office's cold case unit will be making use of the latest forensic DNA and genetic technology to help with the Missing Persons Project, the release noted.

The spokesperson said that any family members of people considered missing should contact the D.A.'s office or their local police department.

Family members may be asked to provide a DNA sample to be entered into the NamUs database to search for a DNA match that could help identify the missing person.

The D.A.'s office cold case unit has focused on bringing charges for homicide and violent sexual assault cases dating back years, as with the recent indictment of David Reed for a 2001 New Bedford homicide and last year's conviction against serial 1990s rapist Ivan Keith.

“Finding missing persons and unidentified bodies is part of our ongoing Cold Case initiative," said Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn.

"We are trying to locate each and every one of these missing persons in order to bring some closure to families and friends who have been searching for their loved ones for years," he added.

The D.A.'s office released the names, images, and details of 19 of the most high-profile missing persons cases over the past few decades.

These include UMass Dartmouth student Charles Allen, who was reported missing in October 2007, when he was 22 years old; former marine Ricky Carter of New Bedford, who also went missing at the age of 22 in 1978; and Jennifer Mbugua, who was 31 when she went missing in Fall River in May 2014.

Quinn noted that some of the missing people may have gone missing due to foul play or criminal activity.

"If anyone has any information related to these cases, please contact us," he said.

More details on the Bristol County missing person cases and photos of the missing people are available on the D.A.'s website at bristolda.com.

Anyone with any information on these or other missing person cases can also reach out to Massachusetts State Police Lt. Ann Marie Robertson at (508) 961-1918 or AnnMarie.Robertson@pol.state.ma.us.

The Victims in the New Bedford Highway Murders

The New Bedford highway murders took place in 1988, with the bodies discovered into 1989. The killer is confirmed to have killed nine women and suspected of murdering at least two more. Although there were at least three different men considered as suspects by the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, the murders remain unsolved and the families of the victims are still searching for closure. The cases are all featured on the unsolved cases page of the Bristol County District Attorney's Office website.

Massachusetts Unresolved Cases Playing Cards

Playing cards are being distributed to inmates in Massachusetts correctional facilities depicting the victims of unsolved murders and disappearances in the hopes that some inmates may recognize them and help bring closure to their cases.

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420