Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $4,000,000)
The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) will implement a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, multi-agency collaboration to be the national TTA provider to deliver forensic DNA services to SAKI site-based grantees working with Jane and John Doe sexually motivated homicide victims. UNTCHI seeks funding under Purpose Area 2: The National SAKI Forensic DNA Services Technical Assistance Program to specifically deliver forensic DNA testing for CODIS eligible uploads, along with providing in-house Forensic Genetic Genealogy (FGG) services.
With world-renowned DNA laboratories and subject matter experts who have supported Missing Persons and Unidentified Human Remains case investigations for over two decades, UNTCHI is uniquely qualified to manage this project and provide exceptional support to stakeholders across the country. This project will help to provide potential investigative leads for unsolved sexually motivated violent crime cold cases involving Jane/John Doe homicide death investigations from SAKI grantees nationwide.
We will use a collaborative effort to collate data from multiple federal databases such as National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP), and other applicable entities. We have two dedicated former police detectives who can perform outreach to investigating agencies. The investigators and laboratory staff will also identify and triage samples for submission for STR, Y-STR, and mtDNA testing on samples, and upload these profiles into CODIS. Family reference samples (FRS), when a putative identification is made, will also be tested for statistical confirmation. UNTCHI will soon become the first publicly accredited laboratory for SNP analysis/FGG. No other laboratory in the world is capable of providing these comprehensive services for SAKI grantees, while considerably saving on costs by eliminating the need for sub-contracting laboratories resulting in more samples tested.
The number of samples processed under this project may vary depending upon the specific needs and circumstances of each agency and case supported. Funds are budgeted to process 25 Jane/John Doe UHR cases with STRs and mtDNA per month (300/year), up to 150 FRS samples per month (1,800/year), and 10 cases for FGG with SNPs (120/year).
Performance metrics reported will include: number of samples processed and searched in CODIS; number of DNA associations identified; number of new entries into NamUs and ViCAP; number of cases in which an arrest or prosecution are reported to UNTCHI; and the total agencies supported. Success stories and other analytics/qualitative metrics demonstrating the national impact of this project will also be collected.