MS Office of the State Medical Examiner Teams with Othram to Identify 2021 Jane Doe

Advanced DNA testing and forensic genetic genealogy revealed that the remains found in 2021 were displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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Published March 04 by Michael Vogen
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In 2021, a skull from an unknown female was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico in Biloxi, Harrison County, Mississippi. The discovery was made by a commercial diver cutting old support beams in the water from a pre-Hurricane Katrina casino site. Anthropological assessment of the skull suggested that the unknown female was between 17 and 18 years old at the time of death.

In November 2021, the Mississippi State Medical Examiner’s Office teamed with Othram to use Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing to help generate leads that might identify the unknown female or a family member. The skull was sent to Othram’s laboratory, and Othram scientists developed a suitable DNA extract and built a comprehensive DNA profile to enable genealogical research. Funding to support this case was provided by Mississippi native and philanthropist Carla Davis. Carla also executed the genealogical research necessary to generate investigative leads for the agency. Investigators used the leads to complete their investigation and confirm that the unknown female was, in fact, a teenager from Clinton, Mississippi.

This high school senior from Clinton, Mississippi was 17 years old when she lost her life in a tragic car accident on Monday, January 3, 2000. This young woman was a beloved member of her community, and had a bright future ahead of her. Her untimely death was a shock, and left a profound impact on her friends, family, and everyone who had the privilege of knowing her. She was laid to rest in a mausoleum at Southern Memorial Park, a beautiful water-front cemetery located in Biloxi, Mississippi.

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, causing significant damage to the tombs at Southern Memorial Park. The high winds and storm surges overturned and broke many of the graves, exposing and displacing at least fifty caskets. The cemetery’s caretakers worked tirelessly to restore order, but the task was overwhelming, given the extent of the damage. As a result, many families were left devastated as their loved ones’ final resting places were disrupted and, in some cases, scattered by the storm. This Clinton teenager and her family were among those families affected by the natural disaster.

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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.