USA college student is solving decades old cold cases

MOBILE, ALA. (WALA)- A University of South Alabama college student is making a name for herself in the world of forensic genealogy.

As a sophomore, Olivia McCarter has helped solve three cold cases in one year!

McCarter said, “Once you get a solution, you want another one.”

McCarter has solved decades-old cases in days, all from the comfort of her bedroom in Grand Bay.

After befriending the owners of Redgrave Research Forensic Services, McCarter asked for an internship and they took a chance on the young student. A chance that has definitely paid off.

“I have three solves so far and I got my first solve a month after I started my internship with them,” said McCarter.

Her team uses DNA and genealogy databases to build family trees and ultimately identify victims and suspects in cold cases.

Her first case was identifying a 1972 John Doe in Missouri. She helped solve it in just four days.

“I stayed up for 3 days straight solving that case,” said McCarter.

Her next case was harder. She helped solve the 1984 rape and murder of Christine Jessop, a 9-year-old girl from Ontario.

“He had killed himself in 2015. He was a friend of the Jessop family that his kids and Christine were, you know, they had played together. And he, they had done an autopsy on Calvin and had a blood sample, so we could just do that one-to-one comparison and it turned out to be 100% Calvin Hoover,” said McCarter.

Her most recent and proudest solve was figuring out who Delta Dawn or baby Jane Doe was. An 18-month-old girl found dead in the Escatawpa River in 1982 that nobody claimed.

McCarter said, “That one took 52 days to solve and I live in Grand Bay about 15 minutes away from the cemetery where she’s buried at. I was able to go visit, where she’s buried and you know take care of it.”

McCarter said she’s now emotionally attached to the victims. So much so, she keeps them with her forever by tattooing symbols on her body to represent each one.

You can play a part in solving these cases too. If you have a DNA kit you’ve done through Ancestry.com or 23andMe, McCarter asks that you upload it to gedmatch.com so law enforcement can view your DNA as possible matches to unidentified remains or suspects in cold cases.

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