Knox County Regional Forensic Center identifies 1987 Cold Case Victim

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Regional Forensic Center has identified the victim of a 1987 cold case. While the identity has not been released publicly, the center is working with law enforcement to inform the victim’s next of kin.

In August, the center was able to identify the remains by submitting fingerprints to an FBI database for comparison. A match was found. Now, the center is working with California law enforcement, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the district attorney’s office to help locate the victim’s next of kin.

“This is an exciting time at the RFC,” said Chris Thomas, the RFC’s chief administrative officer. “Great work is coming out of this office, and I am proud of everyone here. There is no such thing as downtime. Everyone starts moving from the moment of arrival and most of them don’t stop even after they go home. This is an amazing team that is dedicated to their work and identifying decedents is just as important as finding out why they died.”

The forensic center has also identified the deceased in four other cold cases investigated in 2016 and 2019. Two of those individuals were also victims in homicide cases. The center says that DNA Comparison was instrumental in their identification. The center also used fingerprints, forensic dental exams, x-rays, DNA to help identify remains.

At the start of June 2021, the center held the remains of 22 unidentified remains from surrounding counties. According to a release from Knox County Mayor’s office, the center’s investigators usually identify one to two of those individuals per year. However, this summer, they were able to identify five individuals bring the total down to 17.

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