According to the National Missing and Unidentified Person System, more than 600,000 people go missing in the United States every year. Some leave on their own; others disappear because of foul play.
When they turn up dead without identification, they become John and Jane Does, men and women whose families are left wondering what happened. The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates there are 40,000 bodies awaiting identification in the United States. Less than 10% are identified every year because these are often the coldest of cold cases.
That’s where Todd Matthews of Livingston, Tennessee, comes into the picture. Matthews is the founder of The Doe Network, which seeks to solve what Matthews calls the “nation’s silent mass disaster.” Members of the Network, which has been at work for more than two decades, act as internet anthropologists, digging up information and then harnessing the connective power of the internet to match remains with their loved ones. The Doe Network provides a link between law enforcement and families with the hope that grieving families properly say goodbye.
In the summer of 2021, Kristi Jones began interviewing Matthews and other members of the Network to create a podcast titled “Finding Doe.” The series documents the painstaking work of the Doe Network’s volunteers to identify remains. Matthews also tells how a few of his successful matches were made and laments the cases the Network hasn’t solved yet.
Click here to listen to the podcast.