Police chief and forensic lab detail landmark discovery in 30-year-filed Outer Banks case
NAGS HEAD, NC – A News 3 investigation details arrests in the death of a 30-year-old baby in the works.
Earlier this week, News 3 first told you about two North Carolina parents arrested decades after the remains of a baby were found near a trash can in the Outer Banks.
“It’s pretty sad,” Nags Police Chief Phil Webster told News 3.
Webster has been in law enforcement for about 30 years, around the same time people were looking for answers in the case that turned out to be cold.
âWhen I became head of this department, I basically felt like I had personal ownership of everything that came before me,â said Webster.
This matter was cold until now.
âWe kind of went back to the beginning,â said Webster.
On April 4, 1991, a city sanitation worker found the baby’s remains in a trash can rack on East Tides Drive.
After decades of hunting down leads, investigators chose to send a rib of the remains to Othram, a private genetic testing lab based in Texas.
“It’s scary to be the custodian of what might be the last evidence, but it’s always rewarding in the end to give them an answer,” Othram CEO David Mittelman said in an exclusive interview. with News 3.
Mittelman’s lab uses cutting-edge methods to extract DNA and build leads for investigators.
“We take this evidence which, for one reason or another, has not been traceable and unusable, and we extract useful information from this DNA evidence at the crime scene that can be used to identify a suspect or victim in a crime, âMittelman said.
Othram was able to extract DNA from rib bones to perform a genealogical profile leading to a North Carolina family.
âWe use a process called forensic grade genome sequencing,â Mittelman said. âWe then take this DNA that’s prepared, and we put it through a process where we can read a bunch of letters of DNA. With enough of these markers, we can look for people who share a lot of markers in common with l ‘unknown, and which correspond to a distant relative. “
“We can look for people, for example, in public databases who have consented or agreed to participate in these kinds of investigations to help people close an unresolved case or to identify, as in this case, someone one that has never been identified, âMittelman said. added. “By providing a little bit of information, he was able to take them to a family group and the investigators were able to do their job, talk to people, figure things out and later use their own tools to confirm the work we have.” made. and establish confirmatory evidence that the persons they identified were in fact the parents of that child.
Those parents, Scott Poole and Robin Byrum, arrested last week by authorities in Alexander County, North Carolina. Both have been accused of concealing the birth of a child. Authorities said additional fees may be charged depending on the investigation.
Police told News 3 the two were living in the area at the time, and the boy is believed to have been dead for about 2 months before being placed near the trash can.
“It is extremely gratifying to know that we can help close the loop of an investigation that has lasted for decades,” Mittelman said.
Chief Webster said the root cause of death was blunt trauma and asphyxiation. The circumstances which led to the child’s death are, however, still under investigation.
As this investigation continues, Mittelman and Webster believe that Othram’s type of testing will become more common.
“I think it also sends a message to people who want to hide things, or hurt, or hurt, they want to hide things, that they should take that into account as well,” Webster said.
All with the aim of obtaining faster results for cold cases.
âThere is a huge backlog,â Mittelman said. âA silent mass disaster of cases that simply cannot be solved using traditional methods. We hope that Othram will provide answers to as many of these cases as possible.
Chief Webster specifically expressed his gratitude to former Nags Head Police Chief Kevin Brinkley for his previous work on the case.
Nags Head city officials said other agencies involved in this investigation included the Office of the First District Attorney, the North Carolina State Office of Investigation, the Cold Affairs Unit of the Office of the investigation by the State of North Carolina, the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.