Riverside District Attorney's Office Leverages Othram’s Genetic Testing Platform to Identify a 1994 Homicide Victim

The murdered woman, found in 1994, was buried in a shallow grave and remained unidentified for 27 years

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Published January 03, 2022 by Michael Vogen
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Summary

In October 1994, an unidentified woman was found buried in a shallow grave near Thousand Palms, California. The investigation suggested that the woman was a homicide victim. At the time of discovery, the Coroner's Office used all available resources to identify the victim, including having her DNA profile entered into the California Department of Justice Missing and Unidentified Persons System, but no identification was able to be made. With conventional STR testing not producing leads and other leads and tips exhausted, the case soon went cold.

In 2021, the Riverside District Attorney's Office contracted Othram to use advanced DNA testing to produce new leads in the case that might reveal the identity of the homicide victim or at least help find a close family member. Othram's laboratory team used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to generate a comprehensive DNA profile. This profile was delivered to investigators with the Riverside DA's Cold Case Team who used it to perform a genealogical search to find genetic relatives. Using the results of this search, the Riverside Cold Case Team was able to identify a candidate genetic relative -- one of her children. The Cold Case Team was able to find the biological child and a DNA sample was submitted to the California Missing and Unidentified Persons System. The parent-child relationship was confirmed, suggesting that in fact, the unidentified woman was Patricia Cavallaro, born March 22, 1937. She is suspected to be a homicide victim and an investigation into her death continues.


Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Director of Case Management

(832) 906-4247
8301 New Trails Dr Ste 110, The Woodlands, TX 77381
media@othram.com

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.

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. With dnasolves.com anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.

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