Biotechnology company Othram, founded by Kristen and David Mittelman in 2018 to identify human remains and resolve missing persons cases, launched a new program on May 25 to identify missing and murdered children.

According to the website, the project name commemorates National Missing Children's Day, held each year on May 25.

“It is really important to try to be able to bring their voices back, give them the proper burials [and] give their families answers—if the families are seeking those answers—and also identify the perpetrators and bring justice. So that's the hope for Project 525,” Kristen Mittelman said.

About the project

Through Project 525, Kristen Mittelman said Othram—along with other local, state and federal agencies, including law enforcement and The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System—is hoping to identify 525 missing or murdered children within 18 months. The only barrier slowing the process down is funding, she said.

“Funding doesn't come at a quick enough rate for us to be able to identify everyone right now. There's no reason other than funding for why these children can't be identified faster,” Kristen Mittelman said.

Othram obtains funding for the project through philanthropy.

“Unfortunately, there is no federal funding for the project. We're hoping this pilot shows the government what's possible, and federal funding does become available to these cases. So currently, we are crowdfunded,” Kristen Mittelman said.

Though the company runs its programs through donations from local agencies as well as personal donations, Kristen Mittleman said she hopes Othram’s pilot studies show the federal government the need for federal funding.

She said it takes an average of $7,500 to solve each case, and it will need $4 million to meet the goal and solve 525 cases.

Also of note

While the investigation process can be emotionally difficult for families, Kristen Mittelman said investigating cases is also challenging for law enforcement. During an investigation, several detectives are assigned to each case, she said.

Othram’s programs strive to facilitate law enforcement investigations, ease families’ minds, stop perpetrators from committing further crimes, find justice and give families the answers they need to move on with their lives, Kristen Mittelman said.

“We bring the truth, and truth allows these families to turn the page into the next part of healing,” she said.

To continue with its mission, she said Othram plans to work through the 525 juvenile cases published in The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System as part of a special initiative. With its current funding, Othram has initiated 50 missing children case investigations as of June 12.

Anyone interested in contributing to Project 525 can make donations through its website here or help spread the word about the program.