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Project Identify: Students work to identify man in unmarked grave

CINCINNATI (Deb Dixon) -- Grave hunting, DNA testing and forensic artists can open eyes of the dead.
   
It's part of Project Identify at the College of Mount Saint Joseph.  We've followed the students for more than a year as they collect evidence to try uncover the names of six unidentified people.  This is a story you'll see only on Local 12 News.

Backhoes, boots and buckets.  The tools for an exhumation.  Led by Dr. Beth Murray,  forensic anthropologist and professor of biology at the College of Mt. St Joseph.

She said, "Nobody knows what the top was.  Wasn't durable, not expecting it to have held up."

The top of the donated casket with tracks inside. The name students gave the man found near railroad tracks at Linn and Dalton Streets in 1992. He later died from a stroke.  He had no identification.  No one reported him missing.  He was buried in an unmarked grave at the walnut hills cemetery.

Some of these  criminology and biology students have been in on project identify more than a year.  Entering fingerprints, facial images, dental records and DNA profiles into Namus.  The database that compares America's missing  with the dead.  Project Identify involves six unidentified dead in Hamilton County going back to 1980.

A forensic artist did this facial reconstruction for Project ID using the skull of a woman found dead on Sharon Road in 2009.  The artist also  opened the eyes on the morgue photo of so called "Broadway Doe," a young man found dead at the bottom of a stairwell on Broadway  in 1988.  And so called "Pearl Lady" was brought to life too. She drowned in the Ohio River in 2006, still wearing a pearl necklace.  With track's skull recovered, a facial reconstruction is possible.

The coroner's office will have more information for the database after  an x-ray. To look for old broken bones a relative might remember.  This may happen more than people think. There are 40 thousand unidentified dead in America. In some cases a loved one is wondering what happened. Project ID is about finding the answers.


The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System is a Justice Department program, but anyone can log on to the online
database.


Follow Deborah Dixon on Twitter @crimestopperdeb and LIKE her on Facebook

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