Help Anthropology Club Solve a Cold Case

anthropology students examining bones
3% Funded
  • $60.00 Donated
  • $2,200.00 Goal
  • 4 Donors

About the Campaign

Help Southeast’s Anthropology Club aid in the identification of human remains found in Charleston, Missouri in 1979.

A set of human remains was found in Charleston, Missouri in 1979, but the case went cold until Southeast anthropology professor Dr. Jennifer Bengston and her students inadvertently “rediscovered” the initial reports. His mostly skeletonized remains were burned and highly fragmented, although the skull and forearms are largely intact with small amounts of adhering soft tissue. Now, the Anthropology Club is seeking to raise funds to pay for forensic genealogy services to identify the remains, bring closure to a family, and potentially help solve the case.

Most DNA profiles from unidentified decedents are entered into a database called CODIS, which analyzes only a small segment of DNA and is only useful if the decedent or a first degree relative was required by the criminal justice system to submit a DNA sample. Forensic genealogy, on the other hand, is a new approach to human identification using GEDmatch, a repository of DNA profiles voluntarily submitted by the public to connect with their biological relatives. Forensic genealogy has been applied successfully to solve cold cases as old and complicated as the 1979 Charleston case.

Funds raised will support testing by Redgrave Research. Redgrave Research was selected because of its enthusiasm for allowing students to be part of the investigative process. While the research will predominately take place elsewhere, Redgrave Research has offered to create a private online forum and repository for information and findings, and to act as a primary communication forum as the geneticists and genealogists work through the case. The students added to the group will be able to observe the process and interactions among the specialists and will be able to ask questions and get answers directly from the experts.

Terry Parker, Mississippi County Coroner, is fully supportive of this effort.