In October 1987, PennDOT road crew members found a woman’s body on Route 33 in Bushkill Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. She was found as the road crew were collecting traffic cones. At the time investigators thought that she might have been at the site for several days before being discovered.
Because she was found not long after death, investigators were able to easily characterize the unknown woman's features. She was described as a white woman who was about 5 feet tall and weighed between 155 and 165 pounds. She was wearing Longhaul jeans size 33-35, a red pullover shirt with multicolor abstract design of a woman's face with glass bead eye, Sears thermal underwear, white with blue snowflake design, and a thin silver wire bangle bracelet.
Over the years, investigators pursued all leads possible to identify the woman. Various forensic sketches were produced to help sequester leads from the public but she was never identified. In 2020, the Northampton County Coroner’s Office, Northampton County District Attorney’s Office, and the Pennsylvania State Police teamed up with BODE Technology to develop new leads in the case. BODE produced a DNA extract from the remaining heavily degraded DNA evidence. The extract was sent to Othram, where Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® was used to develop a genealogical profile. The profile was returned to BODE and BODE genealogists worked with investigators to identify the unknown woman as Donna Kay Griffin, originally from Dalton, Georgia. The joint investigation continues as investigators seek to determine the circumstances surrounding her death.
About Othram Inc.
Othram is the world’s first private DNA laboratory built specifically to apply the power of modern parallel sequencing to forensic evidence. Othram’s scientists are experts at recovery, enrichment, and analysis of human DNA from trace quantities of degraded or contaminated materials. Founded in 2018, and located in The Woodlands, Texas, our team works with academic researchers, forensic scientists, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to achieve results when other approaches have failed. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit Othram.com to learn how we can help you with your case. Visit dnasolves.com to learn how anyone can make a difference in helping solve the next cold case.