skull

Pictured is the skull of an unidentified young girl that was found in eastern Idaho in 1986.

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A partial human skull found in East Idaho in 1986 that investigators believe belonged to a teenage girl has yet to be identified. Now, more than three decades later, a forensic lab is raising funds to conduct testing that could help identify it.

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office and Samantha Blatt of the Idaho State University Anthropology Department reached out this year to Othram, a private forensic lab, with the hope that the lab might be able to help identify the remains using advanced DNA testing.

Othram took on the case willingly, and at the convincing of Blatt who has previously worked with Othram, Oneida County agreed it would cooperate to move the cold case forward.

The lab company is now raising funds to help pay for the costly testing needed to identify the girl’s remains. A DNASolves.com crowd fundraiser for the effort had raised nearly $3,600 of its $5,000 goal as of Monday night.

The unidentified skull was found in 1986 by a hunting family in Two Mile Canyon outside of Malad. The skull was located in about the same area where, five years prior, the partial remains of two girls, who had disappeared in 1978 from the Pocatello area, were found.

The two girls, Tina Anderson, 12, and Patricia Campbell, 15, were determined to have died by homicide, though law enforcement hasn’t confirmed what exactly happened to them.

Crystal Douglas, who founded the Facebook group Idaho Cold Cases and has tried to raise awareness about this potential break in the Oneida County cold case, said gathering information about the remains of this girl could potentially help provide answers in the cases of Anderson and Campbell.

“Investigators have a lot of circumstantial evidence against suspects already in the (Anderson and Campbell) cases, so answers about this third skull could help clarify some theories, and may even give them a third victim,” Douglas said.

Douglas personally donated $2,500 to Othram for their work on this case. When asked why she was willing to fund half of the testing cost, she said she’s passionate about advocating for unidentified victims in Idaho.

“I think a lot of families of crime victims and John and Jane Does have a hard time finding a voice sometimes,” she said. “Nobody out there ever speaks up for them because they haven’t been identified and we don’t know who they are. This Jane Doe doesn’t have a family, so the public needs to be her voice to solve the mystery of who she is.”

Douglas said she doesn’t know when Othram’s testing on the skull will be complete but that she thinks it could take up to a few months. The process involves DNA matching to several databases that contain thousands of DNA data files.

“They’ll do forensic genealogy on the sample and we should have our answer in not very long unless it’s a very elusive, elusive person with no family history,” she said. “Based on what I know about the case, I don’t predict this is going to take very long at all.”

The families of Anderson and Campbell, as well as other families who are missing loved ones and hope to get answers in their cases, are anxiously awaiting the results of Othram’s testing on this skull.

“There are several families waiting for this information because we don’t know a whole lot about this Jane Doe,” Douglas said. “She had an upper mandible. She had upper teeth, but they don’t have the lower mandible.”

Gathering any information about the remains has been difficult because of the incompleteness of the skull and the alleged victim’s young age. Investigators have only determined that the skull likely belonged to a 14- to 16-year-old girl, and an anthropological analysis has suggested she was either white or Hispanic.

Othram characterizes itself as a company that helps “investigators break through previously impenetrable forensic DNA barriers and close previously unsolvable cases” — so the company’s participation in helping to identify this young girl’s skull from East Idaho gives hope to the 30-year-old cold case.

Anyone with information that could aid the Oneida County investigation in this case should contact Sheriff Arne Jones at the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office at 208-766-2251.

To make a donation toward the DNA testing cost, visit dnasolves.com/articles/oneida_jane_doe_1986.

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