25 remains in Tulsa not yet entered into nationwide database
BY NICOLE MARSHALL World Staff Writer
Sunday, July 25, 2010
7/25/10 at 5:20 AM
Read more about Tulsa’s cold-case
The unidentified remains of at least 25 people that are stored in the Tulsa Medical Examiner's Office have yet to be entered into a national database.
The agency is working to catalog all unidentified remains and enter them in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, known as NAMUS. Many of the remains are skeletal and incomplete and were discovered during the last several decades.
The agency has already entered into the database information about 100 sets of remains that are stored in the Oklahoma City office, said Cherokee Ballard, medicolegal executive administrator for the Medical Examiner's Office.
"The process can be long," Ballard said, "so we did Oklahoma City first, and we will be working on Tulsa next."
The Medical Examiner's Office announced last week that it had created an Unidentified Remains Unit and assigned a full-time investigator, taking a step toward creating a uniform statewide process to identify remains and match them with people reported missing.
In May 2009, the Tulsa World published a series of stories about the lack of a uniform state and nationwide system to match unidentified remains with missing people. Without such a system, many families never learn that their missing relatives have died.
On any given day, as many as 100,000 missing-persons cases are active in the U.S., National Institute of Justice statistics show. At the same time, more than 40,000 sets of human remains that cannot be identified through conventional means are held in evidence rooms across the country.
As well as working with NAMUS, the Medical Examiner's Office is now coordinating with the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification in Fort Worth, which specializes in forensic DNA analysis for human identification.
The center conducts DNA testing that could match unidentified remains with the missing at no cost to law enforcement agencies or medical examiners.
The following are Tulsa County cases that already have been entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, known as NAMUS.
July 8, 1983
The decomposing body of a 35- to 45-year-old black woman was found in a field about 300 feet from the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe railroad northeast of Brady Street and Olympia Avenue. She was unrecognizable and weighed about 133 pounds.
She wore a rust-colored pullover dress, white bra and white slip with the top rolled down and tied around her waist. She had two sets of keys, with one set pinned to a pocket, and a small amount of change wrapped in cloth.
The weathered bones of a 20- to 25-year-old man were found along the Arkansas River near 57th Street. A jawbone and 13 teeth were among the remains found.
The skeletal remains of a black male were found in a rural Sand Springs yard in the 7300 block of West Cameron Street. A man told authorities that he was walking on his driveway and noticed a human skull about 100 feet away. The bones apparently were dragged to the driveway by his dogs.
Twenty bones were found in the area, and a few dried remnants of soft tissue were still on some bones. Additional skeletal remains were found nearby in a shallow creek bottom. An exam revealed no signs of injury or disease.
Dec. 9, 1992
Skeletal remains of a young- to middle-aged black woman were found in the 5700 block of North Harvard Avenue. Several bones, including an intact skull, were found.
Portions of dark-brown to black hair were found with the bones. The hair had tight curls, suggestive of African American heritage. A hair net and a small plastic hair barrette that was designed to look like three yellow clamshells also were found.
Original Print Headline: Database lacks un-ID'd remains
Nicole Marshall 581-8459