LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Finding a missing loved one can bring peace in a difficult situation. One family found DNA evidence can bring closure to a cold case.
Michele Eakin Smith knew very little about DNA testing until her brother went missing in 2007.
After a call from the Arkansas State Crime Lab, she learned of options that not only brought closure to a tough time, but helped the entire family move forward.
"Everybody felt better just knowing the answer, that is was him. We were able to lay him to rest," says Smith.
Michele Eakin-Smith reflects back on the disappearance of her brother Daniel Eakin back in July of 2007. Eakin, from El Dorado, went camping in the Ouachita National Forest and never returned. Then last December a break in the case.
"A hunter found a backpack and he opened the backpack , found the wallet with my brothers I.D. in it and he started searching the area and that's when he found the remains and called the authorities," says Smith.
A few years before, the state crime lab contacted Smith for to see if she would submit DNA to help identify her brother. Although she was nervous that decision shifted the case.
"When the remains were found this past December they were able to make a positive match with my DNA," says Eakin.
Kermit Channel, Director of the State Crime Lab, says the willingness of family members can help law enforcement tremendously.
"They can provide information, they can search, they can be an active part and participant in finding their loved one," says Channel.
Submitting DNA is pretty simple, a state DNA analyst swabs the inside of your mouth and it only takes about a minute to complete.
"This is a tool that helps law enforcement, that helps families, and I think we need to utilize it appropriately," says Channel.
Michele Smith says her family was able to give Daniel a proper burial.
"Everyone wants the answer, whether your loved one has passed away or not you want that answer. And this program made it possible for us to get that answer," says Smith.
If you have a missing loved one, you can meet with the crime lab, give them important information in your case, and submit a DNA sample. "Never Forgotten Arkansas Takes Action" will be held at the State Police Headquarters here in Little Rock... And the event is from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Please bring any information you have about your missing loved one like photographs, police reports, dental records and you will also be able to submit DNA samples through a simple swab of your mouth.