“Baby Doe” was found in a dumpster 17 years ago and is on the verge of being identified

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (KTRK) — 17 years ago, a newborn baby girl was found dead in a dumpster at Sam Houston State University. Now investigators are reopening their case, thanks to technology invented by scientists at a Houston-area lab.

The founders of Othram in The Woodlands claim they can identify anyone when other approaches and DNA tests fail.

When the few-day-old girl was discovered among trash in a dumpster in 2005, wrapped in a sheet and garbage bag, she quickly became known as “Baby Doe.” Three people discovered her body behind the Sam Houston Village, an on-campus dorm, while digging through discarded items at the end of the school year.

“They were pretty traumatized. Luckily, they had other people to comfort them,” said Texas Ranger Chris Cash. “Nevertheless, I can’t imagine it.”

At the time, detectives interviewed nearly thirty students and took DNA swabs from many of them. Nobody suited the little girl. There were no security cameras on buildings around the Dumpster. The few clues they had soon fizzled out.

Fifteen years passed.

Then SHSU police and the Texas Rangers heard from Othram, who was making great strides in DNA testing.

“As long as no one saw you commit a crime against a baby, you’re not going to get caught,” said Kristen Mittelman, Othram’s chief business developer.

Mittelman says if you feed DNA evidence into her machine — like Baby Doe’s blood sample — a DNA profile comes out with hundreds of thousands of markers. Most DNA tests produce a profile with only 20 markers.

“And these markings correspond to specific relatives that are very distant,” explains Mittelman. “I’m not talking about relatives who would come for Thanksgiving dinner. I’m talking about fourth cousins ​​and third cousins.”

The more tags, the more distant relatives genealogists are likely to be able to trace. Baby Doe’s profile is currently with a genealogist.

“It’s almost like looking at a forest right now,” says Cash. “That’s how big the tree is.” He holds his hands up and gestures widely. “We’re trying to remove the branch from a tree in the forest.”

It is boring. it’s slow Cash says it will likely be at least another year before investigators find out who this baby was — who her mother was. But the ranger is confident it will happen.

“[She was]hours, days, weeks old … she deserves to have a proper burial and to be identified,” says Cash.

Othram scientists say it costs $5,000 to harvest and analyze trace amounts of DNA in their machines. They don’t have dedicated funding — and many law enforcement agencies across the country don’t have that kind of money to spend on a case. So Othram started a crowdfunding site: This page lists unsolved cold cases across the country that you can donate to.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. “Baby Doe” was found in a dumpster 17 years ago and is on the verge of being identified

Dais Johnston

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