News10NBC Investigates: Families of missing people protest outside RPD and City Hall

Missing Person Investigations

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Protests outside RPD and Rochester City Hall were inspired in part by News10NBC investigative reporting that showed one missing person was actually laying in the Monroe County morgue for nine months before DNA confirmed his identity.

One family at the protest told us they gave Rochester police DNA samples about a week after their loved one disappeared in 2020. They don’t believe the samples have ever been tested on the unidentified remains at the Medical Examiner’s office.

Among the families outside the Public Safety Building was a the mother of Tommy Williams who disappeared two years ago.

“If they would take things seriously in the beginning he could have been found by now,” said Joyce Williams.

There was the brother of Domonique Holley-Grisham who disappeared in 2009.

“I want better policing, better communications,” said Jaquan Holley-Grisham. “I don’t know. I just want a lot better. I want to find my brother.”

And then there was the family of Nick Alvarez. He disappeared just before Thanksgiving, 2020. The family says they submitted DNA to police within two weeks of Alvarez disappearing. When News10NBC arrived at the protest, his aunt, who Alvarez lived with, came out of a meeting with police.

“[They’re] going to look into it and try to get some answers as to why things have been stalled in this case,” Sylvia Didas said.
In February, we exposed the problem of missing people and the system delays in DNA testing. Four months after he went missing, the remains of Sean Marrero were pulled from the Genesee River and taken to the ME’s office. Six months later his mother was still searching for him. She had no idea his body was in the morgue. It would be another three months before DNA proved his identity.

“And when I first learned about this about a week ago, I was angry,” said County Executive Adam Bello on February 9.

After our story, Bello made four changes:
A team at the ME’s office for regular review cases of unidentified people.
A new administrator to free up medical staff to perform medical duties.
A family liaison for better and timely contact with families of unidentified people.
A new case manager at the crime lab to oversee DNA testing.

The family of Nick Alvarez says they gave new DNA samples this month.

“So hopefully we will get some answers as to whether Nick is in the Medical Examiner’s office or at least they have the DNA if they find something they can identify Nick,” Didas said.

RPD has not shared a statement yet.

The county isn’t allowed to talk about any specific case. The work is on-going but but since my story with the county executive on February 9, several remains at the morgue have been identified and the families have been notified. The county says the information is not public.