New Technology Being Used in Cold Case Homicide in Troy
Information provided by the Miami County Sheriff's Department
TROY - In April of 2018 the “Buckskin Girl” was identified as Marcia King of Little Rock, Arkansas after being an unidentified homicide victim for approximately thirty-seven years. Her remains had been found along Greenlee Road west of Troy on April 24, 1981. She had been identified by using forensic genealogy in 2018 and was one of the first cases in the country to utilize the process. Her case has been an example of using cutting edge technology to advance cold case investigation of unsolved homicides.
With the identity of Marcia King becoming known, Miami County sheriff’s detectives have been able to reconstruct her whereabouts, relationships, and other information in the weeks leading to her discovery on Greenlee Road in April of 1981.
Investigators are turning back to the trace evidence in the case to; again advance the investigation using groundbreaking technology. In this particular case, the hair evidence is being examined due to a scientific breakthrough which is able to extract nuclear DNA profiles from a rootless hair shaft. In the past a hair sample had to have a root bulb in order to yield a DNA pattern that could be input into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to search for a match. With this new technology, all foreign hairs collected from a crime scene, even those lacking root bulbs, have the potential to provide investigators DNA data to query in databases.
Dr. Ed Green who is paleo-geneticist from the University of California is known for studying ancient remains. A decade ago, he was involved in research that extracted a full genome from Neanderthal bone fragments. He is now lending his talents towards forensic applications. The testing process allows investigators to utilize those nuclear DNA patterns developed from the new processing techniques for input into databases utilized in forensic genealogy research. Additionally, the DNA data can also be used to query offender databases used for strictly law enforcement purposes.
Now that all hair evidence has the ability to potentially serve as a “molecular witness” for investigators, the Miami County Sheriff's Office is reviewing all evidence relating to unsolved homicides. Traditional crime labs aren’t set up to conduct the testing and utilizing the science will now be applied narrowly to unsolved murders due to the expense of the processing.
The hair evidence from the Marcia King case has met standards for submission to Dr. Green’s company and investigators are awaiting the results of those submissions. The investigation continues and anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 937-440-6085. Anonymous tips can be left on the sheriff’s office website, www.miamicountyohio.gov/sheriff.