No one has hours to scour the papers to keep up with the latest news, so we’ve curated the top news stories in the field of Forensic Science for this week. Here’s what you need to know to get out the door!
In May 2020, the McHenry County Coroner’s Office partnered with Othram to develop new leads in the case. Skeletal remains were sent to Othram and a DNA profile was built using Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing™. An investigative lead was returned to Chief Deputy Coroner, Olivia Zednick. Together, her team and Othram confirmed the identity of the unknown man, enabling his return to family.
Months after specific DNA testing was used to track down the Golden State Killer in 2018, the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office received grants from the National Institute of Justice to use similar techniques on 100 unidentified remains.
The Government Camp skull was sent to the University of North Texas for testing. In December 2019, the testing revealed the young woman was of Northern European descent, had fair skin, hazel/brown eyes, brown hair and freckles.
The remains of James L. Hamm were discovered about file miles west of Giddings in November 1984. He was born on April 9, 1949, in Escabana, Michigan.
While officials made multiple attempts to identify him over the years, the sheriff’s office consulted with the DNA Doe Project (DDP) in May 2019 regarding investigative genealogy to identify the remains. Then, in August, DNA from the University of North Texas was sent to HudsonAlpha Discovery in Huntsville, Alabama, for whole-genome sequencing.
Detective Lori Howard nicknamed her Grace Doe and believed it would be a miracle to identify her. However, now with the help of the new DNA testing and forensic genealogy Michael Vogen with Othram forensic labs is optimistic they can crack this decades-long cold case.
Earlier this year the Missoula Sheriff’s Office and Missoula Police Department teamed up with FBI Division Counsel Steve Kramer and FBI Special Agent Steve Busch, the nation’s top law enforcement experts on the newest DNA technology that helped identify the Golden State Killer, in an effort to leverage this new tech to finally get answers. In a closely coordinated joint effort with Missoula Sheriff and Police Department personnel, the team set out to re-examine the case and apply forensic genomics technology to identify new leads.
After almost a quarter-century, the man suspected of killing a 17-year-old girl was identified and slated to face arraignment. On Oct. 21, 2020, Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Homicide Bureau detective, Lieutenant Hugo Reynaga, discussed the circumstances surrounding the young girl’s death, how they located the suspect and how he was brought back to face justice.
On November 17, 1984, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office was contacted regarding skeletal remains found in a field off of CR 200 approximately five miles west of Giddings, Texas by hunters in the area. These remains, consisting of only four bones, were recovered by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The skeletal remains were sent to Texas Tech University, and examined by a forensic anthropologist. It was determined the skeletal remains were that of a white male, age 30 to 39. No leads were developed at that time.