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Saginaw Police and Othram team up in hopes of identifying teen killed in 1988

In October 1988, Saginaw Police responded to the call of an unidentified body in the northeastern part of the city. When they arrived on scene, they found the body of a young African-American man who had died only hours prior from a gunshot wound. A thorough investigation by the SPD revealed that the young man was likely from the Detroit area. Despite the hard work and efforts, investigators were unable to unearth his identity, and to date, no one has come forward with information.

25 February, 2021

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Montgomery County Forensic Services, local forensic lab identify deceased man from 2016 case

For over four years, the body of a man found in a reservoir in The Woodlands remained unidentified. Forensics services attempted to identify the man using fingerprints, dental records and DNA. The department ran press releases with pictures of his belongings and uploaded the information to a national database, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, known as NamUs. Nothing generated leads. In late 2020, Montgomery County Forensic Services contacted Othram.

22 February, 2021

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Elderly man identified 4 years after body was found in Woodlands reservoir

A kayaker on the late afternoon of Oct. 7, 2016 found the body of the man now identified as James Edward St. Peters in the Bear Bench Reservoir. Late last year, The Woodlands-based Othram, Inc. partnered up with the Montgomery County Forensic Services to identify St. Peters. Othram’s research team generated a new lead after finding a genetic match to the man reaching beyond second cousin status and scouring Mennonite and French Canadian family records.

12 February, 2021

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Was Harrodsburg’s Dancing Lady Murdered?

The legend goes: A beautiful young woman in her early 20s checked into the Graham Springs Hotel, in the 1840s. That night, as music played in the ballroom, she came downstairs and began dancing with various partners. She danced passionately and at the end of the evening, her final partner realized that, to his horror, she had literally died in his arms. [Todd Matthews] is optimistic that through advanced technology this almost 180 year old mystery could be solved.

3 February, 2021

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Police Still Seeking Clues After Teen Found Dead In Texas Motel Pool In 1966 Identified With DNA

More than 50 years later, a teenager who was mysterious found dead inside a Texas motel pool has been identified, and her family in Kansas will finally be able to lay her to rest alongside her parents’ graves. In 2018, law enforcement officials and DNA experts began working on finding her name — which was revealed at a press conference as Jolaine Hemmy. The Pecos Police Department and DNA Solves raised money for the laboratory work through crowdfunding, at which point the teen’s remains were extracted at Othram and then they built a genealogical profile.

20 January, 2021

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The Unsettling Truth About the ‘Mostly Harmless’ Hiker

The body of a hiker had been found in a tent in Florida in the summer of 2018, but scores of amateur detectives, and a few professional ones too, couldn’t figure out who he was. Everyone knew that he had started walking south on the Appalachian Trail. He met hundreds of people on the trail, and seemed to charm them all. They all knew his trail name, but no one could figure out his real one. The puzzle was formally solved today, when Othram confirmed that the DNA of the hiker matched that of Rodriguez’s mother.

12 January, 2021

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Advanced DNA testing reveals new info about boy whose remains were found in 2014

Contractors working along a mid-central Mississippi creek in Sharkey County in January 2014 found a skull in a drainage canal. Investigators believe the boy, who was between 5 and 7 years old, may have been dead for several years. The Mississippi state Medical Examiner’s Office teamed with DNA testing company Othram and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to use advanced DNA testing to reveal more about the boy’s identity.

11 January, 2021

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After Saving For Big Birthday Trip, Woman Instead Uses Money To Fund DNA Research Giving Young Murder Victim Her Name Back

Catherine Serbousek, an audiobook editor and mother of two young children, told that a particular unsolved crime struck a chord with her while she was growing up in Arkansas. [Serbousek] was experiencing some existential dread around her birthday and didn’t feel like taking the big birthday trip she'd saved for. Instead, she decided to use the money to contribute to assisting unsolved crimes. For her, it was no question: Dawn had to be the first case she wanted to see movement in.

4 December, 2020

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The Power of Kindness and Technology “Delta Dawn” has her name back

Serbousek had been reading how genetic testing, and the growing popularity of genealogy testing databases were helping law enforcement solve cold cases – if someone would pay for it. That’s when it hit her: That’s how she’d use her birthday money. [..] The genetic information led to a woman in Joplin, Missouri, Theresa Spencer. [..] DNA testing by Othram confirmed that they had found Spencer’s niece, Alisha.

4 December, 2020

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Cold Case in Lincoln: Forensic lab gives new hope for identifying woman

Less than five miles from Talladega Superspeedway is where this mystery begins. [...] "Pretty much every lead you could think of that we ran down was a no-go, we had nothing at the end of it so it was just sitting here, a cold case." Then, this summer, someone reached out to a lab in Texas after reading about the mysterious case on NamUS. Othram is a private DNA laboratory built specifically to solve cases like this one.

2 December, 2020

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How you can help Rutherford County solve a cold case from 1978 using genetic genealogy

For the last 42 years, the [Rutherford County Sheriff Office] has combed through leads and hit dead ends as detectives have worked to uncover the identity of Doe, a man found shot and burned at the Poole Knob Campground near La Vergne. [...] That's why the department is connecting with Othram, a Texas-based private laboratory that will attempt to build a DNA profile for Doe and use genealogy to hopefully find a relative.

1 December, 2020

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A Nameless Hiker and the Case the Internet Can’t Crack

It’s usually easy to put a name to a corpse. There’s an ID or a credit card. There’s been a missing persons report in the area. There’s a DNA match. But the investigators in Collier County couldn’t find a thing. [...] Othram called up the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and offered to help. [...] Soon a small piece of bone from the hiker was on its way west from Collier County to the Othram labs.

2 November, 2020

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Genetic sequencing helps identify Arkansas cold-case suspect

What does it take to solve a cold case nearly 50 years old? When key DNA evidence is scare and degraded, typical forensic tests won’t reveal much. That’s where Othram comes in. "Most of the cases that come to us, they’ve been through other processes," David Mittelman explained. "They’ve attempted other methods and nothing has worked." Mittelman is the CEO of Othram, a DNA sequencing laboratory that assists with cold cases all but abandoned.

28 October, 2020

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‘It’s A Big Deal’: DNA Solves 46-Year-Old Murder Of 5-Year-Old Girl

Advances in DNA led to the case’s closure. Othram used DNA extract from the crime scene to produce a genealogical profile which in turn led to Davis’ identification. "It is critical to solve these sexual assault cases to secure justice for the victims, but also to identify other possible victims," David Mittelman, CEO of Othram, told "If CODIS does not yield an answer then we have to use other forensic DNA tools to help solve a case."

27 October, 2020

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'John Doe' found dead over 1 year ago in rural Harvard identified as Ingleside man

A body that was found in a rural area of Harvard a year and a half ago has been identified through genealogy testing as a 50-year-old Ingleside man. [...] The coroner’s office collaborated with Othram Inc. in late June to conduct genealogy testing and analysis. Additional leads were developed in early October as a result of the genealogy testing and possible relatives of the man were identified.

23 October, 2020

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McDonald County Sheriff’s Office working to identify ‘Grace Doe’ in 1990 cold case

The McDonald County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday it is working with Othram to use advanced DNA testing and forensic genealogy in an attempt to identify the victim or find the closest living relatives to the decedent. The woman was nicknamed “Grace Doe” by Detective Lori Howard in the 2000′s. Around that time, an autopsy revealed that she had been raped and strangled approximately two months prior to her discovery.

22 October, 2020

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How genetic genealogy played a crucial role in the 1984 Christine Jessop cold case

[...] the investigation into nine-year-old Christine Jessop’s death had become as sprawling as a family tree: hundreds of boxes containing countless names, more than 300 potential suspects examined and ruled out, DNA submissions from dozens of people. The head of Toronto’s Cold Case Squad, Stacy Gallant, realized last year that the only hope of finding a signal in all that noise was the emerging forensic field known as genetic genealogy, a technique that has been used to crack a number of high-profile cold cases in the United States but remains a rarely used investigative tool in Canada – for now.

16 October, 2020

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How DNA and a genealogy website helped lead to the killer of Christine Jessop

Toronto police investigators submitted the DNA sample to the U.S.-based lab Othram Inc., which is accredited with law enforcement agencies. David Mittelman, CEO of Othram, said in an interview that the lab began working with the Toronto Police Service last year. "There was DNA evidence but the DNA had not been used fruitfully in other approaches," he said. "So we took on the project."

16 October, 2020

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36 years later: Toronto Police identify man responsible for rape and murder of 9-year-old girl

Toronto police say a cutting-edge piece of DNA analysis technology not yet used in Canada led them to solve a 36-year-old cold case involving the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl north of Toronto. [...] Officers from the Toronto police cold case squad asked the Americans to run the DNA through an emerging mode of analysis known as genetic genealogy, which develops a whole family tree of individuals, rather than a single match.

15 October, 2020

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Woodlands DNA lab IDs suspect in 1974 cold case murder

After in-house testing during a little more than a month this summer at Othram, researchers at the lab located off New Trails Drive in The Woodlands generated a genetic profile using DNA that another group extracted from the victim’s bra. Othram’s lab team narrowed down their genealogical findings to a couple with three sons. [...] Unknown to Othram during its work, one of those sons was filed as a person of interest early on in the murder investigation.

10 October, 2020

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Texas crime lab helping to crack the case of a human skull found in a local family’s basement

In 2005, the quiet town was shaken, when a human skull was found in one family's basement. A workman made the gruesome discovery while cleaning a basement fire pit in the house. [...] Now with the help of groundbreaking forensic technology, a lab in Texas hopes to help find answers.

5 October, 2020

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Vermont State Police partner with Texas company for DNA analysis in Brianna Maitland case

Vermont State Police are partnering with a Texas company to complete a new analysis of DNA evidence in the 2004 disappearance of 17-year-old Brianna Maitland, the agency announced this week. [...] The agency announced that its Major Crimes Unit would be collaborating with Houston-based business Othram, which specializes in forensic testing and "works on the cutting edge of DNA and scientific techniques to help identify victims, locate missing persons and uncover perpetrators of crime," according to a news release.

30 September, 2020

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Columbia police announce partnership with private lab to investigate 2019 infant remains

The Columbia Police Department announced that it is partnering with Othram, a private lab, to solve an investigation into the remains of an infant, known as Baby Doe, found last year. Othram is known for forensic genealogy testing, according to a release from the department. Police said the lab's technology could potentially help identify the infant remains.

24 September, 2020

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Man's body found floating near beach: A mystery in Galveston that police hope you can help solve

"We’re the first lab in the U.S. to do the entire process from evidence all the way to genealogy and ID completely in house," said Dr. David Mittelman, CEO of Othram. "We know from genetic analysis that it’s very likely that the young man is not African American, that he is actually African, and we think he might belong to an ethnic group called Bantu."

23 September, 2020

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1974 Cold Case Killing of 17-Year-Old Cheerleader Carla Walker Sees Arrest of Stranger After 46 Years

"There just wasn’t enough information at the time," said Fort Worth detective Leah Wagner at press conference Tuesday announcing the arrest. Last year, she reopened the case with detective Jay Bennett of the cold case unit. They ran Walker's clothing through Othram, a private DNA lab, where it was tested with technology not available at the time.

23 September, 2020

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DNA Leads To Break, Arrest In Unsolved Murder Of ‘Spitfire’ Cheerleader Who Was Kidnapped After Valentine’s Day Dance

DNA evidence recovered on clothing and a bra worn by Walker during the attack was sent to private lab Othram Inc., which was able to create a full DNA profile of a suspect, according to KXAS-TV. That, in turn, led investigators to McCurley, who was already named as a possible suspect in Walker's case file.

23 September, 2020

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Suspect Arrested in 1974 Cold Case Murder of Carla Walker

NBC 5 learned on Tuesday that DNA evidence recovered from clothing and a bra worn by Walker on the night she was killed was sent to Othram, a private lab in the The Woodlands which uncovers genetic identities "through DNA, rootless hair and decades-old bones." Using a new process, detectives said the company was able to develop, for the first time in this case, a full DNA profile of a potential suspect.

22 September, 2020

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Introducing Forensic Genomics

Forensic Genomics addresses how advances in genetic testing and genomic analysis can enable investigators to break through previously impenetrable forensic DNA barriers. Our goal is to accelerate the validation and adoption of new methods to support investigations that would be otherwise stall with traditional forensic testing methods.

17 September, 2020

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Researchers Encourage Forensics Labs to Adopt New Genomic Technologies for Relationship Testing

David Mittelman, CEO of Houston, Texas-based Othram, which specializes in using next-generation sequencing and genetic genealogy to identify human remains and to solve cold cases, said that the field is certainly trending towards adoption of higher-resolution technologies, which is necessary, as there are specific issues with using STRs that make detecting complex relationships hard.

10 September, 2020

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Pecos police hoping to identify girl who drowned 54 years ago

Pecos investigators have partnered with Othram, a forensics lab that specializes in analyzing degraded remains. Pecos PD sent the girl’s remains to the lab where they’ll extract DNA and then genealogists will use that data to connect her to a family tree.

1 September, 2020

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Cold Cases Heat Up with New Forensic DNA Methods

Two years after Ben’s body was found, conventional investigative tools—fingerprints, witness statements, and missing persons reports—led nowhere. And Ben’s DNA samples, which prompted searches through the usual databases, failed to yield any hits. At this point, Florida authorities announced that they had partnered with a new company, Othram, a DNA laboratory in Texas that provides forensic genealogy services.

1 September, 2020

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Another ID through DNA: Who killed Rodney Johnson?

At the time the unidentified remains were discovered, it was clear the man had been in the water “for a significant period of time,” according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office. [...] The lab was able to obtain one-fifth of a nanogram of DNA — that is, one-fifth of a billionth of a gram. About 98% of the sample was bacteria.

13 August, 2020

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Detectives use family tree to ID cold-case shooting victim

Efforts to identify the body, including through sketches made by the medical examiner's office, failed for more than two decades. But investigators this year enlisted a Texas-based DNA sequencing company, Othram Inc., to develop a genealogical profile from a degraded DNA sample extracted from the victim's tooth.

12 August, 2020

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Forensic genealogy to be used in deceased hiker case

Detectives have partnered with [Othram] to identify the man using a new technique in forensic genealogy and handles the process in-house. The partnership comes after detectives determined that they had exhausted DNA searches through national missing person’s databases in March of this year and following national developments in DNA privacy.

15 July, 2020

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Forensic Genomics Launching Fall 2020

Forensic Genomics, a dynamic new peer-reviewed journal, will launch its preview issue at the annual International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) in September 2020. The Journal will focus on the use of the latest DNA testing technologies, algorithms, artificial intelligence, and genealogical research methods to support human identification using inference tools and inductive reasoning.

13 May, 2020

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Leveraging Anthropology, Forensic Genomics, and Genealogy to Restore Identity to Human Remains

Advances in DNA testing and genetic genealogy have been steadily helping forensic professionals close a growing number of seemingly “unsolvable” cases.

1 May, 2020

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DNA Testing w/ David Mittelman (Part 2, audio)

In this episode, hosts Bill Thomas and Kristin Dilley discuss advanced forensic DNA testing with Dr. David Mittelman, founder and CEO of Othram in Houston, Texas.

27 April, 2020

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SEMO professor, students identify remains found on Charleston farm in 1979

After more than 40 years, an identification has been made in a cold case involving burned, unidentified human remains recovered on a farm near Charleston, Missouri. [...] Through modern DNA testing of the unidentified remains, a full genome sequence was produced by Othram Inc., a private DNA laboratory in Texas specializing in recovery, enrichment and analysis of human DNA from trace amounts of degraded or contaminated materials.

25 April, 2020

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New program in Houston is training future forensic scientists and digitizing DNA evidence

Houston-area's first-privately held forensic sequencing laboratory has partnered with The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to create an academic program that will provide forensic training to genome scientists that will help them crack previously unsolved criminal cases.

21 April, 2020

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DNA Testing w/ David Mittelman (Part 1, audio)

In this episode, hosts Bill Thomas and Kristin Dilley discuss advanced forensic DNA testing with Dr. David Mittelman, founder and CEO of Othram in Houston, Texas.

20 April, 2020

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Forensic Genealogy: An Investigator’s Roadmap

This is an exciting time in the world of cold case investigations where advances in DNA testing are helping investigators break through previously impenetrable forensic DNA barriers. Investigators now have the chance to take new steps to solve cold cases that they just can’t let go—cases that were deemed unsolvable. The next question becomes, where do I begin?

16 April, 2020

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Othram Establishes Academic Program to Train Forensic Genomics Scientists

Othram, a forensic DNA sequencing laboratory for law enforcement, has announced a program agreement with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and its School of Health Professions to provide training for Molecular Genetic Technology (MGT) graduate students in the field of forensic genomics. [...] The MGT program is a three-semester, highly intensive course of study offered by the School of Health Professions. This unique learning experience integrates classroom lectures, laboratory demonstrations and technical experience to prepare each student for national certification as a molecular genetic technologist.

6 April, 2020

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Your DNA Test Could Crack a Cold Case

DNASolves, a new database launched in November by Houston forensic genomics company Othram, was designed with these people in mind. Unlike GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA, the site is specifically meant to aid in criminal investigations. Unlike GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA, the site is specifically meant to aid in criminal investigations.

11 March, 2020

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DNA solves the oldest cold case (audio)

Idaho cave first discovered in 1979, but the body remained unidentified for 40 years. We were the lab that basically took the material and produced a genome sequence from it. The twist to the story is that we produced a genome sequence and then these two genealogists discovered that the body belonged to someone who is over 100 years old.

4 March, 2020

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Woodlands-Based Biotech Company is Helping Solve America’s Cold Cases

Othram uses advanced DNA sequencing and proprietary software to enable human identification applications from degraded and often scare forensic DNA evidence. The company has built the first and only private laboratory to apply the power of modern genome sequencing in a forensic environment.

14 February, 2020

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Southeast Missouri State University Anthropologist Partners with Othram for Identification of Human Remains

Othram, the leading forensic sequencing laboratory for law enforcement, is working with an anthropologist from Southeast Missouri State University to use forensic genealogy to help identify human remains found on a farm in Charleston, Missouri, in 1979.

14 February, 2020

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DNA testing underway on Portsmouth African Burying Ground remains

The City Council this week authorized the expenditure of up to $10,450 from the African Burying Ground Trust to conduct the DNA sequencing project, which is already underway in partnership with Othram, a Texas-based laboratory that applies cutting-edge genomics to forensics to deliver full genome insight from degraded and low-input DNA samples.

8 February, 2020

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Investigators asking people to volunteer DNA to help solve cold cases

Project: Cold Case, Forensic Genealogy and Southeastern Homicide Investigators Association (SHIA) are providing free DNA testing kits at its 5th annual Year of Hope fundraiser on Saturday. The group is asking for people to participate in the testing and upload their results to DNA solves or another public database for agencies to compare to DNA in unsolved cases. Several members of law enforcement are pledging to do the same.

23 January, 2020

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Your DNA Could Catch a Criminal

My close relatives aren’t criminals, I think, but who knows what my third cousins twice removed might be involved in? I’m happy to upload my DNA to a secure database and opt in for law-enforcement searches. You should be too. Privacy scolds should pipe down. The benefits of a safer society far outweigh the risks. With enough publicity, crimes that leave physical evidence, especially murder and rape, should become a lot less common.

12 January, 2020

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Forensic Genomics Market Advances Due to Consumer Databases, Technology Innovation

Othram, a new forensic genomics laboratory with in-house next-generation sequencing capabilities, introduced to solicit users of consumer genomics services to upload their data for the expressed desire to help law enforcement solve cold cases. "Family Tree DNA is doing the opt-out model [with regards to law enforcement], GEDmatch is doing opt-in," said Othram CEO David Mittelman. "I thought there should be another model," he said. "Since we do nothing but law enforcement, there is nothing to opt out of."

9 January, 2020

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DNA Evidence Identifies Headless Corpse in Cave as 1916 Axe Murderer

Researchers from the Texas-based Othram Inc. lab managed to extract genetic material from one of the leg bones—so remarkably preserved that an accompanying sock remained intact—and uploaded a DNA profile to several databases to search for a match. Within months, they had their man.

7 January, 2020

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103-year-old murder case cracked after headless torso found in Idaho cave

As the years went on, improved technology uncovered some details about the body, such as a relative age and height. But without a head, the case went cold — until last year. Authorities in Clark County, Idaho, turned to the DNA Doe Project and experts from Othram, a tech company that sequences DNA. Genealogists then built a “genealogical tree,” which led to a huge breakthrough.

1 January, 2020

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Headless Torso Found in Idaho Cave Identified as Bootlegger

The headless torso that was found in a remote Idaho cave 40 years ago has finally been identified as belonging to an outlaw who killed his wife with an ax and was last seen after escaping from jail in 1916. [...] Experts from Othram, a technology company focused on forensic DNA sequencing, analyzed a sample taken from the remains.

31 December, 2019

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The Woodlands-based Othram applies DNA sequencing to aid investigations

So he raised $4 million in venture capital in November 2018 to build Othram’s lab and buy equipment for DNA extraction and sequencing, opening the lab in April. Othram’s customers, mostly law enforcement, pay for the company’s DNA extraction and sequencing services.

27 December, 2019

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We’re Entering a New Phase in Law Enforcement’s Use of Consumer Genetic Data

While not the first time the technique was used, the Golden State Killer investigation was certainly the highest-profile, and it opened the floodgates to solving crimes with genetic genealogy. Law enforcement simply input DNA from unsolved cases into GEDmatch (as well as some other databases, like FamilyTreeDNA and Othram). When crime scene DNA demonstrates even a partial match, forensic genealogists can use that information to construct a family tree and determine who a suspect might be.

19 December, 2019

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Othram Launches Forensic Genealogy Service for Law Enforcement

Othram announced the formation of an in-house forensic genealogy research team. This team, along with data scientists and software developers, completes Othram’s full-service forensic DNA sequencing program enabling law enforcement agencies to work with a single vendor to extract, enrich, test, and analyze DNA not amenable to other approaches.

19 October, 2019

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The Genomics of Justice (audio)

David explains his vision for disrupting the state of the art in forensics identification using genomics, deep sequencing and machine learning.

10 October, 2019

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Othram Aims to Overcome DNA Sequencing Challenges to Solve Forensic Crime Cases

Othram combines unique laboratory processes with our own software algorithms, to identify and eliminate noise so that we can better identify genetic data that truly corresponds to a DNA sample. We use this data to help our customers learn more about the identity of unknown persons and the circumstances in which their remains were found.

11 June, 2019

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Othram Awarded Research Sequencing Grant At SXSW By Illumina Accelerator

Othram was awarded a research sequencing grant from Illumina Accelerator after presenting at SXSW for the "Digitizing Biology Through Genomics" session as part of the Energizing Health House program. Founded in 2018, Othram is a new technology company that operates a state-of-the-art forensic DNA sequencing laboratory, focusing on reconstructing genome sequences from degraded and low-input DNA sources.

15 April, 2019

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Forensic Genomics Firm Othram Raises $4M

Forensic genomics startup Othram said today that it has raised $4 million in Series A financing. Nimble Ventures, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm, led the round.

12 March, 2019

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