St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has announced a new initiative aimed at solving missing persons cases.

Over the next two weeks, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has scheduled a series of DNA collection opportunities in various locations throughout the state for family members of missing persons to provide DNA samples and information about their missing relative. Officials say the DNA profiles created using the samples will then be entered into missing person databases and compared to DNA collected from the remains of unidentified deceased persons.

The program was developed after investigators last summer exhumed the remains of five unidentified people who died and were buried in Twin Cities cemeteries before DNA testing was available. Unfortunately, the DNA samples did not match any of the profiles currently contained in state and federal databases.

“The disappearance of a family member is extremely difficult because the loss is accompanied by so many unanswered questions,” BCA Deputy Superintendent Catherine Knutson said. “While a match like this is not the result families hope for, it is information that may help them move forward.”

State records show 225 Minnesotans have been listed as missing for more than a year, and at any given time, over 550 Minnesotans are listed as missing. The Department of Public Safety says there are currently about 100 sets of unidentified human remains in Minnesota.

The first DNA collection event will be held this Saturday at the BCA headquarters in St. Paul. There will also be a collection event in Mankato on July 27. The other two events will be in Duluth and Bemidji on July 18th and 19th.

Additional information is available at the Department of Public Safety website.