You may recognize Olivia McCarter as a former ISHI Student Ambassador. At 19 years old and a freshman at the University of South Alabama, she was one of the youngest to work forensic cases using forensic investigative genetic genealogy.
Olivia had never done genealogy work before, but she poured herself into the work, even foregoing meals and sleep to give names back to those who remained unidentified. As part of the team who worked on the Christine Jessop, Delta Dawn Jane Doe, and Mississippi County John Doe cases, Olivia found what she was meant to do. While working on completing upper-level courses, she had made it her mission to provide names for as many of the 40,000 unidentified remains cases in the United States as possible.
Since we last saw her at ISHI last year in Orlando, Olivia has begun working with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office as a Genealogy Analyst and Reserve Deputy in their Cold Case Unit. Now 21 years old, she and two other women have launched their very own company, Moxxy Forensic Investigations.
The dictionary defines ‘moxie’ as a force of character, determination, or nerve. Playing on the XX and XY chromosome pairs that determine biological sex in humans, Moxxy Forensic Investigations is a woman-owned and operated force of determination and nerve utilizing genetic genealogy to help identify otherwise inscrutable individuals.
We caught up with Olivia to learn more about the company and her co-founders, some of the cases they have begun working on, and what it means to her to have launched a new company while taking on a full college caseload.
Olivia and Moxxy co-founder, Katie Thomas
Can you tell us a little more about who you’re working with at Moxxy Forensic Investigations?
My co-founders are Kaycee Connelly of Illinois and Katie Thomas of Texas.
Kaycee is an investigative genetic genealogist as well as marketing and social media manager. She has been a genealogist for over 20 years and has worked on countless adoptee cases utilizing DNA.
Katie is our business manager and an investigative genetic genealogist. She has over 10 years of investigative social work experience, supervisory experience, and genealogical experience. She is also a researcher, area director and district manager for the Doe Network and holds a Lean Six Sigma green belt certification.
We had interned at a separate company together and found that we all really worked well together. We all have different strengths and when we come together, we are an absolute powerhouse team. This summer, we were able to ID an African-American Jane Doe within an hour of genealogical research, which is something that is almost unheard of.
Katie is good with the business side of things… I mean, she is wonderful. She gets things done quickly and professionally. Kaycee is in marketing and has great ideas for big picture stuff.
I consider myself to be knowledgeable about the lab process needed for investigative genetic genealogy. Something neat about our team is that we are all learning by watching others perform their strengths. Before becoming a member of this team, I knew nothing about starting a business. But after watching both Kaycee and Katie, I learned all about it!
Along with the three of us, Bryan Worters (also of the DNA Doe Project) and an unnamed individual are also part of the Moxxy Forensic Investigations team.
How did the idea for the company come to be?
We all became close friends from working on previous cases together. When I started to get cases from Alabama through the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, I approached Kaycee Connelly, Katie Thomas, and Bryan Worters about helping me identify people in my home state.
For the first few cases, they volunteered their efforts to help me without compensation. Some of these folks have never even been to Alabama, but they came together and helped me provide answers for people here.
I don’t think I can ever thank them enough for what they’ve done for me and for Alabama. Because they all live outside of Alabama, they wanted to work on cases in their home states as well, so we decided to develop a company (owned by Kaycee, Katie, and I) to make that easier.
What was it like getting the business up and running?
When we started to work on cases in Alabama, we realized how well we worked together. We rarely clash on ideas and while we’re all very professional, we have a good time with one another. I don’t even know whose idea it was to start a company, but it was something that all felt completely natural to us.
Katie really stepped up to handle the legal and business side of things. She designed our website too. Kaycee handles a lot of our social media and media outreach. I am great with the lab process and working on the scientific side of things.
Everyone in the IGG community has been supportive and has given us advice on what labs to use for specific samples, etc. We have already started to get cases too. Everything is going amazing.
What types of cases will you be focusing on at Moxxy?
We are focusing on perpetrator cases and unidentified remains cases across the United States and Canada. If a case can be closed with IGG, we will take it–no matter the difficulty.
Are there any cases that you can share yet?
So far, we have solved almost three cases together, none of which have been announced. All of these are from the state of Alabama.
One current case that I can talk about is an unidentified Indigenous male who drowned in Gulf Shores, Alabama, in September of 2005. We are currently working his genealogy and because he is 96% Indigenous, it has been a bit of a difficult case.
If anyone would like to follow Moxxy’s progress, we have a Facebook page. This is where we will be announcing cases and solves.
What’s it like being all female-owned and operated?
I think one word to describe how I feel about us being an all-female-owned company is proud. I am the youngest of the three and I really look up to Katie and Kaycee as professionals and as women, in general.
You’re taking on much more than the typical 21-year-old college student! Can you talk about that?
I am juggling owning Moxxy, working for the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, and have sixteen credit hours this semester for school. I am also twenty-one years old. I think that I was able to do this at such a young age because of the support that I’ve had. The entire IGG field has really encouraged me to go far and the folks at the sheriff’s office have really been so supportive. There have been times where I have wanted to quit and move away to live in a cabin on a secluded island. However, I know that no matter how tough times get, that I can help a lot of people in my career. That is the thing that matters most to me. And times do get tough. 2022 has probably been the worst year of my life but the amount of love that the people in this field have shown to me has really pulled me out of that space.
Look out, world. Katie, Kaycee, and Olivia are coming to show what we are made of!
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