GBI and Ware County Sheriff's Office Leverages Othram's Genetic Testing Platform to Identify a 1998 Murdered Preschooler

After more than three decades, Waycross Baby Jane Doe is now known to be 5-year-old Kenyatta Odom.

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Published November 13, 2023 by Michael Vogen
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In December 1988, in a rural wooded area in Waycross, GA, a truck driver discovered skeletal remains in a box off Dunkin Bridge Road. The remains were that of a young child and were found concealed inside a duffel bag that was placed inside a suitcase, and further concealed inside an old television cabinet. Investigators estimated that the child had been deceased for one to two months before being found. The child was a black female and thought to be 3-4 years old. She had black hair pulled into a ponytail secured on the top of her head by a brown rubber band. She was found wearing a white knit pullover shirt with a red pony emblem on the upper left chest, white thermal pajama bottoms with maroon trim, and a disposable diaper. The child’s ears were pierced but no earrings were found with her remains.

Ware County Sheriff Investigators responded to the scene and began working to identify the young girl. Local investigators teamed with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to aid in the investigation. Hundreds of leads and tips to identify the child were examined and substantial investigative effort was applied towards the case. Unfortunately, with few leads solid leads to pursue, the case soon went cold.

In 2020, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation submitted forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas. Othram scientists developed a suitable DNA extract from the evidence and then used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the murdered young girl. After successfully completing the profile, the DNA profile was delivered to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Investigators worked with a team of forensic genetic genealogists to develop leads in the case. Their effort, in conjunction with additional leads and tips that surfaced from the increased visibility of the case, led to a potential identity for the young girl. DNA testing of a genetic relative then confirmed the positive identification of Waycross Jane Doe as 5-year-old Kenyatta Odom. On Nov. 10, 2023, investigators arrested Kenyatta’s mother, Evelyn Odom, a.k.a. Zmecca Luciana, age 56, and her former boyfriend, Ulyster Sanders, age 61, both of Albany, Georgia. They were indicted and charged with Felony Murder, Cruelty to Children in the First Degree, Aggravated Battery-Family Violence, Concealing the Death of Another Person and Conspiracy to Conceal the Death of Another. This case is active and ongoing, so we will provide more information as it becomes available.

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Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Director of Case Management

2829 Technology Forest Blvd Suite 100, The Woodlands, Texas 77381

Michael works with law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada on “unsolvable“ cases that can benefit from advanced DNA testing methods. He helps these agencies use cutting edge DNA sequencing and new forensic techniques to develop investigative leads for their cases.

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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 ... Read morerecovery, 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 to learn how we can help you with your case. With anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.