The N&O has a fascinating story today about the N.C. Program for Forensic Sciences, which is run out of NC State and is featured in the above video. The bodies of six women have been found in rural Edgecombe County since 2005. Investigators, who suspect that the women might have been victims of a serial killer, hadn’t been able to identify one set of remains. They turned to the forensic sciences program for help. Here’s what happened:
It was a copy of a 2002 CAT scan that finally put a name, a face to the bones and mummified remains found eight months ago among the decaying leaves in a thicket of woods north of Rocky Mount, where six women have been murdered.
Elizabeth Jane Smallwood, 33, of Rocky Mount was no longer a lost person, thanks to a world renowned expert and a program at N.C. State University that is pioneering the use of forensic science in crime scene investigations. Using specialized computer software, forensic anthropologist Ann Ross was able to match the unique features of the weathered skull to Smallwood’s old CAT scan – a three-dimensional X-ray.
The program, writes The N&O, “has been called upon by the United States military to develop new technology that would find underground graves in Iraq. Back home, it has been called upon to assist in 60 homicide cases across the state.”
“I can’t tell you everything that we do,” said veteran archaeologist Billy Oliver, who co-directs the program with Ross. “But I can tell you that we are on the leading edge of the new technology.”