Forensic technology has improved by massive leaps and bounds over the past few decades—to the point that it's regularly being used to solve cases that are five or more decades old. Take South Florida this week, for example:
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has identified human remains that were found nearly 50 years ago with the help of genealogy testing.
During a news conference Thursday, Detective Bill Springer announced that the remains found in June of 1974 belong to 15-year-old Susan Gale Poole who went missing in Broward County just before Christmas in 1972.
Poole's remains were identified following genealogy testing by Othram Labs, a private forensic laboratory that utilizes genome sequencing to build DNA profiles, according to Springer.
That's welcome news for the surviving members of Poole's family who want to see her laid to rest with family. It's also welcome news for investigators who'd like to solve her murder:
Springer says Poole's skeletal remains were found tied up in the mangroves of an area formerly known as "Burnt Bridges" along A1A in Palm Beach County.
Detectives believe Poole may be a victim of Gerard Schaefer who was convicted in 1973 of two counts of murder in the first degree following the deaths of two Florida teens.
At the time of Poole's disappearance, Schaefer was an officer for the Wilton Manors Police Department, Springer says. Schaefer was also employed by the Martin County Sheriff's Office for less than a month in 1972, according to department records.
It's a long shot but it might just work. Police searched Schaefer's house back in the mid-1970s and found "driver's licenses, jewelry, and other items belonging to various victims;" they will now work to determine if any of those objects belonged to Poole at some point, which if so would strongly indicate her having been one of his victims.
Schaefer died in prison a few decades ago, so he couldn't be prosecuted for Poole's death. But linking him to it would at the very least assure investigators that Poole's killer is not still on the loose.
Three cheers for forensic technology and the hardworking men and women who use it for good.
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