By Wally Kennedy
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The Missouri Department of Public Safety said Sunday the list of missing persons from Joplin’s tornado disaster has been pared to 43.
Andrea Spillars, deputy director of the DPS, said the number includes four people whose families have reported them to be deceased but official confirmation still remains lacking. There were more than 1,300 reports of missing people early last week, a number that had been trimmed to 100 by Saturday.
EFFORT TO CONTINUE
“We will not give up until all people are accounted for or laid to rest,” Spillars said at a late afternoon news conference.
She said the morgue established for the tornado disaster has had 146 sets of human remains sent there. City officials believe the number may represent as many as 142 bodies and four partial sets of remains. Investigators are trying to determine if any of the partials are from the same person.
“It would be inappropriate for us to assume those are all separate persons,” she said.
The DPS had released a list earlier Sunday of 87 deceased victims identified by investigators whose families had been notified. Seven of those were never reported as missing, DPS officials said.
Spillars said 137 people have been located by the Missouri State Highway Patrol since the state took charge of the processing of missing-persons reports. Following the release of an initial list of 232 people on Thursday, the patrol received numerous phone calls and e-mails containing credible information that has helped them and local police to pare the list, she said.
An accompanying news release said the patrol also has been monitoring postings on Facebook and other social media sites in an effort to locate missing people.
DPS began reporting a new category of possible tornado victims on Saturday, those who had been reported to be deceased by their families but had yet to be confirmed as dead by the Jasper County coroner and the federal Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team that is operating the morgue.
Five of the nine people listed in that category Saturday since have been identified and confirmed as deceased by investigators. They are: Dorothy Hartman, 91; Glenn Holland, 59; Charles Oster, 77; Joshua Vanderhoofven, 1; and Darian Vanderhoofven, 44. All five were from Joplin. Of the four who remain in the category, the Globe has confirmed Lorie Holland, 59, of Joplin, and Donald Lansaw, 31, of Joplin, to be deceased through their families.
State troopers have been notifying families of their loved ones’ deaths following confirmation by DMORT and the county coroner.
The DPS said in a release passed out at the news conference that the names of the missing are being cross-referenced with hospitals that admitted patients injured by the tornado, shelters housing tornado survivors, applicants for disaster assistance and the Safe and Well program of the American Red Cross. The state also is checking with cellphone service providers to see if cellphones belonging to those reported as missing have been used since the tornado.
Spillars appealed to the public to assist in the process of accounting for the missing by reporting any information about those on the list to the state patrol’s found persons hot line at (417) 895-6868.
The Newton County coroner said Sunday that he believes two deaths at a nursing home in Granby will be among those attributed to the tornado.
Coroner Mark Bridges said two residents of the Meadows Care Center at 1805 W. 32nd St. died at a nursing home in Granby where they were transferred following destruction of the Joplin nursing home. Bridges said the 39-year-old male and 39-year-old female, both of whom had prior health problems, died of apparent emotional trauma from the tornado.
The male resident, Troy Raney, of Joplin, appeared on the list of confirmed deceased victims released by DPS. The female resident’s name did not. Bridges did not know why. He said Jasper County Coroner Rob Chappel told him that he was under the impression that she was on the list.