Kentucky State Police Forensic Lab Utilizes DNA Technology to Identify Missing Person
OWENTON, Ky. (Dec. 19, 2022) – The Kentucky State Police (KSP) Forensic Lab partnered with Othram Inc. using advanced DNA testing to establish an identity for a victim in an unsolved case. Recently, KSP positively identified a “Jane Doe” recovered along a roadside in rural Owen County from 1988 as Linda Bennett.
In May 1988, a couple from Owenton spotted an unresponsive woman while on a walk, which resulted in KSP Post 5 opening an investigation. Detectives determined that her death was a homicide; however, they were unable to identify the victim. Investigators collected her fingerprints and compared them to others in databases and did multiple forensic facial reconstructions, but leads were exhausted. The case has remained open throughout the years, in hope that someday the victim may be identified as technology progressed.
In June 1988, Bennett’s family reported her missing to authorities in Columbus, Ohio, where she was last known to live. Bennett’s family did not live in the same state as her and had limited contact.
In 2022 new information was acquired about the potential identity of the Jane Doe, which led investigators to the victim’s son, who provided a DNA sample. The DNA sample made a match to Linda Bennett, positively confirming her identity.
“Advancements in technology and scientific testing have led to this new information. This could not have been done without the combined efforts of all those working on this case,” said KSP Post 5 Detective Paul Johnson. “I express my heartfelt condolences to the family of Ms. Bennett and hope that knowing her whereabouts helps them to rest easier.”
KSP detectives partnered with multiple groups to solve the case. Othram provided recovery, enrichment, and analysis of human DNA that was able to match Bennett. The Commonwealth’s Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) team provided funding, and the agency’s SAKI investigative team worked closely with KSP Post 5 detectives providing research and data.
“When you become part of a project such as SAKI, you do so hoping to get some measure of closure or justice for people who have been waiting for so long, in this case, decades,” said KSP SAKI Detective Janet Barnett. “It also reinforces that no one person can make a case like this a success. It takes professionals from all disciplines and agencies working together to bring cases like this to fruition.”
If you have information about a criminal case, please contact your local KSP Post or dial the tip line at 1-800-222-5555.
The mission of KSP is to promote public safety through service, integrity, and professionalism using partnerships to prevent, reduce and deter crime and the fear of crime, enhance highway safety through education and enforcement, safeguard property and protect individual rights.
Othram’s website states it is the first private laboratory built to apply the power of modern parallel sequencing to forensic evidence. To learn more about the company and its mission, visit its website.
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