Remains of teen missing for 16 years was with the police all along

The remains of a teen that has been missing from Oklahoma City since 2000 has been finally identified, reports KOKO.    Regina Marie Curtis was last seen on May 15, 2000. She left home to make a telephone call and never returned. She has not been seen or heard from since. She is Native American (Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes). Her remains were found at Lake Draper in June 22, 2000, but it took the authorities 16 years before she was positively identified.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office released a statement about the case:

“Over many years the OCME has archived around 150 unidentified skeletal remains in our evidence vault. Some of these decedents have been with us for decades, prior to DNA testing or a searchable national database of missing persons. Prior to 2012 the OCME had no dedicated in-house personnel, systematic method, or tools to allocate specifically toward making positive identification in these cases. In 2012 we hired a full-time forensic anthropologist, Angela Berg, and in 2015 we hired a second one, Dr. Carlos Zambrano. Together, in a relatively short amount of time, they have been able to register 113 of these human remains in a searchable national database (NamUs), and have assisted directly in the resolution of 61 missing person cases, some dating as far back as 1968! Regina Curtis, whose remains were found in 2000, was one of these people identified by their tireless efforts, in conjunction with the national database, local law enforcement, and DNA testing provided by UNT-HSC in Texas.”

The Oklahoma City police released a timeline of events which entailed several attempts to show a composite clay model to the news media in hopes of someone recognizing the model in 2000 and 2002.  DNA was sent to the University of North Texas in 2002 and then a second sample in 2005 when the first sample did not contain sufficient bone marrow.  DNA was taken from the Curtis family in 2006 to see if there was a match.  No explanation why nothing ever came from this.  Another public announcement made for identification through the media by the police, but using a composite drawing this time.  The Curtis family told the police at that time they believed the composite looked like Regina and the police agreed, but no DNA match had come back yet, so nothing came of it.  Finally in Jan. 2016 a match was made and finally, finally in February a notification was sent to the Curtis family of the match. 

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Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.