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Smithsonian’s David Hunt Honored for Help Finding Missing Children

Dr. Hunt with bones

One of the highlights of my job is meeting people who make a difference in the lives of others by applying their talent and expertise in the pursuit of justice.

Some unsung heroes work in police cars, some in courtrooms, others in hospitals or shelters.

I met David Hunt amid thousands of human bones inside the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where he works as a physical and forensic anthropologist and archaeologist -- his day job. As an expert in mortuary analysis and the curation of skeletal remains, he is known for his expertise in craniometric analysis, which is the study of skull measurements.

He also voluntarily shares his skills, experience and enthusiasm for teaching with the dedicated team at National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), which is one of the DOJ’s most vital grantee organizations. I was drawn to meet Dr. Hunt because of his volunteer work.

NCMEC is the 24-hour nerve center near Washington DC that works with law enforcement striving to bring home missing children. The center uses Amber Alerts, state-of-the-art cyber investigative techniques and synchronized efforts across all levels of law enforcement to rescue children. When these extraordinary efforts fail, NCMEC endeavors to bring closure to families and offenders to justice when a child has been murdered.

Facial recognition by strangers is one of the primary tools that brings a missing child home or identifies a murdered child. Dr. Hunt’s expertise allows him to accurately interpret the bone structure of skeletal remains that allows NCMEC artists to generate an accurate facial drawing so the remains of unidentified murdered children can be identified. His volunteer efforts have helped give closure to numerous families and bring killers to justice.

At the Office on Violence Against Women, we are proud to support NCMEC by raising awareness of their work.

It was an honor to meet Dr. Hunt, who for the past 20 years, has helped reunite numerous missing children with their families. His work exemplifies so many people who volunteer behind the scenes to help others in their greatest time of need. It was a pleasure to nominate Dr. Hunt for his outstanding volunteer work on behalf of victims. The dedicated staff at OVW congratulates and celebrates Dr. Hunt on receiving the Attorney General's Citizen Volunteer Service Award for outstanding volunteer contributions to the Department's mission.Learn more about his work and some cases he’s contributed to in this episode of Patchwork.

Updated January 20, 2021