ICYMI: Lab that identified Gardendale remains shares process

Local News

Gardendale, TEXAS (ABC Big 2/FOX 24) – The Ector County Sheriff’s Office says ranchers found human remains in a Gardendale pasture while working cattle back in 2019. After nearly 2 years with no matches, investigators reached out to Othram, a lab near Houston that works on cases around the country. Their team uses DNA markers similar to CODIS, but takes in more information. The process is called Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing.

“Instead of 20 markers, it’s got tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of markers, so it’s a lot more information that we’re able to develop from the crime scene and evidence,” says Othram CEO David Mittelman.

While it’s a newer system, the CEO says it’s meant to work in conjunction with other methods. He says the biggest challenge in this case, was working off partial remains. According to Othram, investigators found a skull, jaw, teeth, pelvic bone fragments, and femur bone fragments.

“Anthropological analysis is tough as it is, but if you don’t have a full skeleton or part of the skull is missing, those kinds of things can make it very hard to identify someone, particularly if there’s not a lot of clues left at the scene,” says Mittelman.

Othram says they made a profile, ECSO used it to find a potential family member, and the lab used testing to confirm that Timothy Daniel Gomez was the person found. The CEO says it’s rewarding for his team to help cases like this one.

“If you’re able to give an answer to someone, and if you’re able to work even one case, there’s so many people that benefit from that,” says Mittelman.

The next step is finding out what happened to Gomez, and why. If you know anything about this case, you’re asked to contact ESCO investigator McMeans at (432) 335-3050, or Texas Ranger Strain at (432) 498-2120.

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