Digital DNA kit available to help find missing children

SAN ANTONIO – Local and federal law enforcement agencies joined with the Heidi Search Center on Monday to announce the availability of a new Digital DNA kit to help find missing or runaway children.

“I went low tech … just pen and paper,” said Dottie Laster, the director of the Heidi Search Center. “Sometimes those are still the best ways to gather information.”

The information, an extensive list of a child’s social media contacts and sources, is compiled on a sheet of paper that parents can share with law enforcement if their child is missing.

“Social media is the engine that predators are using to get to our children,” said Michelle Lee, FBI special agent, as she praised development of the kit.

The kit keeps track of youngsters who may have been abducted to a new level, according to Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau.

“This is the next extension that really represents what our lives are all about,” Pamerleau said. “So much of it is on line.”

Getting kids to cooperate by providing the necessary information may not always be easy, since they’re often not anxious to share their social media contacts and activity. The sheriff suggested that completing the kit may involve some parental “detective work.”

“It’s about standing back, lurking, standing in the background and getting the information that you can,” she said.

The kit has already proven itself, according to Laster.

“Using their on line activity, coordinating with local and federal law enforcement, we’ve been able to rescue and save children before it got too far,“ he said.

The kits are available through the Heidi Search Center website at Heidi Search, or by calling the center at 210-650-0428.

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