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Justice through Genomes: Othram Inc. hopes to help in Baby Boy John Doe case

The Othram lab works with law enforcement across the United States, using an advanced system for testing DNA samples.

CARBON COUNTY, Pa. — A year ago, nobody knew whose body was buried under a headstone marked Beth Doe in the Laureytown Cemetery near Weatherly.

Now we know it's the grave of 15-year-old Evelyn Colon and her unborn baby girl, who was killed in 1976.

Othram, a Texas-based DNA laboratory, helped identify Evelyn and her alleged killer through DNA profiling.

RELATED: Cold case murder in Carbon County cracked, details released

"The crime would have never been solved because no one even knew that that crime had happened. No one knew to report it. No one knew she was missing, and that's why this technique is so powerful," said Kristen Mittelman, the Chief Development Officer at Othram.

Evelyn's case is just one of hundreds Othram has helped solve. 

Now the lab is looking to help solve a case in Luzerne County–Baby John Doe, an infant found in a Larksville landfill in 1980.

Mittelman says the lab works with law enforcement agencies across the United States, using an advanced system for testing DNA samples.

"We can take evidence that is otherwise inaccessible and digitize it and create a record of it, and then we take that record, and we provide back investigative leads to investigators by uploading it into genealogical databases that are sort of consented, or for law enforcement use or looking at public records that are out there and piecing back the identity of the person that left that DNA," Mittelman said.

By helping identify victims like Evelyn Colon and helping find their killers, Othram hopes to continue to give families more justice and closure.

"When someone is unidentified, their story is missing from reality forever, and putting that story back gives closure to so many people," Mittelman said.

State police raised enough money to pay Othram for the Larksville Baby Doe case. Mittelman says the next step is running the DNA sequence, hoping to get a profile on the perpetrator soon and then find out who Baby Doe is.

If you are interested in looking at other cases Othram has helped solve or donating to help fund DNA research for their cases, click here. 

RELATED: Complete Newswatch 16 coverage of the Marise Chiverella cold case.


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