Mount St. Joseph University

Dr. Elizabeth Murray Helps Solve 37-year-old Case

Academics, Biology, Campus News, Biology, Biomedical Sciences, School of Behavioral & Natural Sciences, Department of Biology

By: Kathleen Cardwell

File Under: biology, faculty

Dr. Beth Murray, a forensic anthropologist and a professor at Mount St. Joseph University, is no stranger to identifying unknown persons.

As one of only approximately 60 board-certified forensic anthropologists in North America, Dr. Murray has assisted in both forensic and historic skeletal investigations on the local, regional, national, and international levels since 1986.

Her latest success landed her in Troy, Ohio, where on April 11th, she led a press conference announcing the recent identification of Marcia L. King, of Arkansas, a homicide victim found in Troy 37 years ago, in 1981.

Genetic genealogy is what solved this mystery. According to Dr. Murray, “This is groundbreaking work on the part of the DNA Doe Project. Together we achieved what others said could not be done."

Previous efforts to find a match to the victims DNA were unsuccessful, until now. The DNA profile of the victim was used to identify a relative of the victim via public genealogy records, and the relative’s DNA was a confirmed match. “This is unprecedented,” said Dr. Murray. “The methodology using the genealogy was able to solve in four hours what no one was able to do in the last four decades.”

Dr. Murray will continue working on her other 34 unknown-person cold cases. Her quest for answers and her passion for biological sciences also has her back in the labs and classrooms at Mount St. Joseph University where she teaches courses in anatomy and physiology, gross anatomy, and forensic science for the Department of Biology.