One week after the launch of Operation Identify Me, important new information has been received in the search for the identity of 22 deceased women. Police organizations in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have so far received more than 200 tips, by providing potential names of victims in several cases.
Police forces across the three countries and INTERPOL welcome the level of public participation so far and emphasize the need for more information via www.interpol.int/im. Each of the victims in the campaign are unidentified women and many of whom were most likely murdered.
The international call has, in just one week, already provided investigators with concrete leads. Authorities in the participating countries have already received dozens of tips including:
- 122 for German cases
- 55 for Belgian cases
- 51 for Dutch cases
The appeal has received an overwhelming amount of media attention, which is reflected in the information received so far. While some members of the public have shared information about the potential origins of clothing or jewellery, others have pointed to possible names of specific victims. Further investigation is needed before any conclusions can be drawn. Tips have come from all over the world, which shows the importance of communicating globally on such cases.
All four organizations involved in the appeal thank the public for their engagement so far. Martin de Wit of the Dutch Police said: “We are extremely grateful for all the support and attention. We have heard from experts from all over the world spontaneously offering their help. It is heartwarming to see how people are massively sharing the call online and continue to do so.
“The women in the campaign deserve to get their names back, and the information we are receiving now gives us hope for several cases. Every tip can make a difference for the next of kin of the victims,” concluded Mr de Wit.
Investigators in the three participating countries are now analysing the information received. Should this lead to the positive identification of one or several victims, the first priority will be to inform families.
Additionally, as the women are presumed to have been murdered, any identification could lead to criminal investigations. Depending on the nature of the investigation, it may take some time before any information is made public.
Encouraging people to share the appeal as widely as possible, the Coordinator of INTERPOL’s DNA unit, Susan Hitchin, said: “We continue to call for any piece of information that could help investigators connect the dots and remind the public that full case details, including photos and videos, are available for consultation on www.interpol.int/im.”
For biological relatives who believe one of the women could be their missing loved one, national police, once contacted, can liaise with INTERPOL for international DNA comparison. Since 2021, INTERPOL has been providing investigators with a new global tool, the I-Familia database, to help identify unknown bodies through international family DNA kinship matching.