Much is made of the traditional techniques used in forensic science, and rightfully so. However, sometimes the power of the internet and what the general public is doing with it cannot be underestimated in solving crime.
A 55-year-old murder case from Boulder, Colorado, has finally been solved using a combination of media (TV’s “America’s Most Wanted”), exhumation, DNA extraction, forensic anthropology, forensic artistry and someone watching case progress over the internet (Victim of 1954 Homicide Case, ’Boulder Jane Doe,’ Identified).
The battered body of a young woman was found on a river bank near Boulder on 8 April 1954 but she was never identified and she was later buried in a simple grave. Eventually, after prompting by a local historian, Silvia Pettem, the case was re-investigated, funds were raised, the body was exhumed in 2004 and a DNA profile was obtained. An artist’s impression was created and shown in the media, including on “America’s Most Wanted”. Silvia Pettem kept the case alive with a website (www.boulderjanedoe.com/Jane%20Doe.html).
After a long time, a woman came forward to suggest that the deceased could be her long-disappeared aunt. The woman who came forward had been following the case on the internet and eventually decided it was worth a punt to suggest her aunt’s name. A DNA profile was obtained from another aunt and it came up with a match for the deceased.
Everyone thinks “it couldn’t happen to me and mine”. In this case, a woman who was watching the case over the internet thought “maybe it could be me and mine”.