November 24, 2013

Identity sought for remains found in shallow grave in west Fort Worth

Likely a homicide victim, the woman’s skull was discovered March 20 by a work crew digging in west Fort Worth.

Eight months after the remains of a suspected homicide victim were found buried in a shallow grave in west Fort Worth, authorities are still trying to determine the woman’s identity.

Authorities have scoured missing person reports, run the woman’s DNA profile through national missing person databases and enlisted the help of a forensic artist to create a facial reconstruction sculpture of the woman’s face, but all to no avail.

The woman is believed to be Hispanic, 21 to 35 years of age, petite, and 4-foot-11-inches to 5-foot-4-inches tall. She had long, wavy brown hair, cut into layers and with probable bangs. She was wearing striped lounge pants and a multicolored print blouse.

Her upper front teeth had a dental bridge that replaced a missing lateral incisor.

The woman’s skull was discovered March 20 by a work crew digging in a wooded area northwest of the intersection of Calmont Avenue and Alta Mere Drive.

Other remains were later unearthed by a team led by Dr. Dana Austin, forensic anthropology for the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.

The woman is believed to have died between October 2012 and early 2013.

Officials have not released her cause of death.

Since 1969, the medical examiner’s office has received the remains of 87 individuals who remain unidentified. With the help of grants, the office has been working to enter DNA profiles of the unidentified into the missing persons index of the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, with hopes of learning their names.

Austin said this was the third time this year that remains were received by the medical examiner’s officer without at least a tentative identification.

The identities of the other two cases — both deceased men — were discovered within two months, Austin said.

One was identified through the CODIS criminal offender database, which compares the unidentified DNA profile with that of convicted offenders. The DNA profile of the other was linked through CODIS’ missing person index to a DNA reference sample that had been provided by a family member of the missing man. That man, she said, had been missing for 6 1/2 years.

“That database is now populated to a point where it’s really working for us,” Austin said.

Austin encourages anyone with a missing family member to contact their local police department and inquire about providing family reference DNA samples for uploading into the databases.

“We want information on this particular case, but we also want to reach out to anyone with missing persons in their family and encourage them to use the resources that we have, which include this database,” she said.

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