Families of missing New Yorkers turn to Medical Examiner to find long-lost loved ones

Kathy Fields, despite the passing years, holds out hope for answers in the long-unexplained disappearances of her two brothers.

Fields appeared Saturday for the city medical examiner’s annual Missing Persons Day, where attendees arrived with a mixture of sadness and yearning for their lost loved ones.

The event, run since 2014 by the agency, offered advanced forensic sciences resources and support for guests seeking some definitive information about the fates of their relatives.

Fields, one of the early arrivals, sought answers about her two siblings, one gone since 2004 and the other missing for four years.

“I just want to get closure and find what happened to them, because this isn’t something they would do,” said Fields. “They were good people, hard-working, very family oriented. I don’t know if they were killed.”

Siblings Henry and Tony came from a family of 10, with both disappearing after they moved to New York from the Carolinas. Henry would now be 64 and Tony in his 60s, she said.

Both just dropped out of sight, leaving their sister to wonder about their fates.

“I need to know what happened,” she said. “I was close to them, but closer to Henry.”

Office of Chief Medical Examiner assistant director Mark Desire said the event lets the family members know somebody still cares about the missing people.

“Working with the families is as important as the technology,” said Desire, citing the advances in DNA identifications. “This day exists to encourage families to come in and report, provide info about missing loved ones ... No case is too old for us.”

The program was launched in 2014, with Missing Persons Day cited for making more than 30 identifications of people in the metropolitan area and beyond. Relatives of anyone missing more than 60 days can reach out for assistance.

Alex Correa, 37, came seeking information about his brother Gustavo, unseen since crossing from Mexico into Texas three months earlier. He was steered to the event after reaching out to the NYPD Missing Persons Squad, and left after providing a DNA sample.

“I called them a while ago, but I had to wait for them to call me back,” said Correa. “My brother is like me.”

Family members at the event can shares photos, personal histories and DNA samples with the agency in hopes of making identifications, officials said.

OCME criminologist Carl Gajewski’s work dates back to identifying victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. Once the remains are identified, he said, they are provided to the victim’s family, he said.

In some cases, he said, investigators return tubes with small pieces of bone or extracted DNA inside to the relatives.

“It’s very powerful to the families,” said Gajewski. “Especially those who have not yet received anything.”