How they did it: Groundbreaking technology reveals ID in 37-year-old cold case


Few people thought anyone would ever know the true identity of the Jane Doe whose body was dumped in Miami County 37 years ago.

New technology and the persistence of scientists, however, proved doubters wrong on Wednesday when Sheriff Dave Duchak announced the woman found in April 1981 was Marcia L. King, 21, of Arkansas. She died of blunt force trauma and strangulation.

Dr. Elizabeth Murray, a forensic anthropologist and professor biology at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, who has been involved in the Jane Doe investigation several years, and Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick and Dr. Margaret Press of the DNA Doe Project of California all attended Wednesday’s announcement and talked about their efforts.

TRENDING: Jane Doe no more: Miami County sheriff identifies cold case victim 37 years later

“The final lead that cracked this case was some groundbreaking DNA technology. This is through the DNA Doe Project,” Murray said.

Press and Fitzpatrick developed the process of applying genetic genealogy to the identification of unknown persons.

“We’ve several times done what others said couldn’t be done, but we used a stored 1981 blood sample, still liquid,” Murray said. “A number of individuals told us we would not get DNA out of that blood,” which was not refrigerated for years.

They did, however, and within four hours once they had the DNA information, Murray said. The information was used in a genealogical database to find relatives, and from those relatives the DNA was confirmed through forensic testing, she said.

The Buckskin Girl case was one of the first using the DNA Doe Project process. Press and Fitzpatrick said their approach is like those used by adoptees in searches for birth families who use direct to consumer DNA testing companies to obtain a list of potential relatives.

TRENDING: A story a day: Local history book has a year’s worth of tales

Press and Fitzpatrick said they don’t use the DTC companies, but collaborate with independent labs and bioinformatics experts to obtain similar data and use third-party DNA databases.

They thanked the Miami County investigators for having confidence in them, their new technique.

“It is amazing to have a success story,” said Fitzpatrick.

More information on the DNA Doe Project is available at dnadoeproject.org.

Miami County Chief Deputy Steve Lord said, “We owe a lot of gratitude to the scientists that got us here today.”



Reader Comments


Next Up in Local

Advocates: Warren County widow’s case a big win for Ohio seniors
Advocates: Warren County widow’s case a big win for Ohio seniors

An 81-year-old Warren County widow’s win in the Ohio Supreme Court will have far-reaching implications for other surviving spouses facing bills for the care of loved ones who die, advocates for seniors said. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in favor of Cora Bell in a lawsuit filed in June 2015 against her in Franklin Municipal Court about...
WPAFB Thursday Weather: Chance for light showers as gradual warm-up continues
WPAFB Thursday Weather: Chance for light showers as gradual warm-up continues

A chilly morning with temperatures rising through the 30s, according to Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs. Skies will be mostly cloudy all day with a slight chance for a few sprinkles. Temperatures will moderate into the middle 40s for highs, which is slightly above normal. A few more sprinkles are possible Thursday night, but a better...
Dayton area businessman in court today on illegal dumping charges
Dayton area businessman in court today on illegal dumping charges

A prominent Dayton area philanthropist and one of his managers are set to appear in court today on several felony charges involving his businesses. Steve R. Rauch and Jennifer Copeland have been summoned to be appear in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, where they were indicted last month on illegal dumping and related charges, court records show...
Police: 58-year-old man abducted at gunpoint back home safe in Dayton
Police: 58-year-old man abducted at gunpoint back home safe in Dayton

The 58-year-old man is back home, but his vehicle is still missing. The man is safe and was able to walk back to his house in the 600 block of Gramont Avenue, police said. The victim, whose name was not released, was abducted at gunpoint by two men who also robbed him of his mid-size sport-utility vehicle, a red 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada with Ohio plates...
Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards says he’s giving up drinking; ‘I got fed up with it’
Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards says he’s giving up drinking; ‘I got fed up with it’

Longtime Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards said he’s been drinking less and less over the past year and finally just “pulled the plug on it.” >> Read more trending news  The Stones guitarist and founding band member, who turns 75 next week, told Rolling Stone magazine, “I just got fed up with it.” He said...
More Stories