The remains of a Crittenden County man missing since 2001 were positively identified Wednesday based on DNA samples taken from family members at an event in Little Rock last year, highlighting the importance of the continuing efforts to assist relatives of missing adults, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said today.
Authorities in Memphis determined that remains discovered in that city in 2011 were those of Tommy Lee Newingham of Earle, who was reported missing 12 years ago. Newingham’s remains were identified through a national DNA database. Newingham’s family had provided DNA samples to the state Crime Lab in August at an event hosted by the Attorney General and several state and federal law enforcement agencies. The event to help families locate their missing loved ones was the first of its kind in Arkansas.
“I am grateful that the Newingham family can now begin to seek closure after 12 years of uncertainty,” McDaniel said. “Through modern DNA analysis, our law enforcement agencies continue to solve these cases. However, there are more than 450 active missing persons cases in Arkansas alone, so there is much more work to be done.”
McDaniel’s office sponsored “Never Forgotten — Arkansans Take Action” last August in partnership with the Crime Lab, state Medical Examiner and other agencies with the sole goal of helping Arkansans locate their missing adult family members and loved ones. Families of missing adults in Arkansas were invited to attend to provide DNA samples and information that could assist law enforcement in locating missing persons.
About 50 families provided DNA samples to be included in the national database, as well as police reports, photographs and dental records. Chief Investigator Mike Callender of the Crittenden County Sheriff’s Department attended the event with the Newingham family.
McDaniel said he expects his office and other agencies to host a similar event this year.
The Memphis Police Department is conducting an investigation into Newingham’s death. Anyone with information about the death is encouraged to contact Crittenden County Crime Stoppers at (870) 735-4444 or Memphis Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-2274.