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Phoenix official hopes second annual Missing in Arizona Day brings more leads

(KTAR Photo/Kathy Cline)

PHOENIX — “We never forget, and we never give up.”

That’s the motto of the Phoenix Police Department’s cold case unit.

The department is hoping Arizona’s second annual Missing in Arizona Day on Saturday brings it new leads so it can pair remains with families. Last year, nine cases were solved after more information came in on the inaugural Missing in Arizona Day.

But the task is not an easy one.

“There are almost 2,000 people … missing in Arizona,” Sgt. Vincent Lewis said. “There’s over 1,400 unidentified bodies.”

Cases are passed on to new detectives as other retire or move on to keep fresh eyes on aged cases. However, working cold cases can be draining, especially as the trail grows colder and colder.

“It is very frustrating when I, basically, have failed at my job,” Christen Eggers with the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office said.

Eggers said she wants to do her best to match bodies with their identification, but she sees more than 500 annually.

“On a yearly basis, we have over 500 cases,” she said. About 5 to 10 will remain unidentified.”

The amount of missing bodies also poses an issue for the Mexican government.

Many of the aforementioned 500 bodies seen annually are Hispanic. Felix Herrera with the Mexican consulate in Phoenix says the Mexican government devotes a lot of resources to the issue.

“We work very closely with the medical examiner’s, with Border Patrol,” he said. “To keep – I will say forever – the information.”

Herrera said the Mexican government gets a lot of calls about missing people at its 24/7 call center in Tucson.

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