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DNA EVIDENCE SOLVES COLD CASE

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010— A Chicago area family now has closure after bone fragments helped solve the mystery of their missing loved one, announced Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart.

It was in December 2004 that Forest Preserve Police contacted the Cook County Sheriff’s Office regarding skeletal remains found in the Dan McMahon Woods at Rt. 83 & 104th Avenue in unincorporated Palos Township.  The remains were scattered over a 500-foot area, along with a few pieces of clothing, including a partial pair of blue jeans, a t-shirt and boots.  At the time, detectives searched and photographed the area for days and collected evidence from the scene.

Dental remains did not match any missing persons reports.  According to a forensic anthropologist, there was no indication of perimortem trauma that would indicate death by gunshot, or violence to the skull, but police could not rule homicide out. 

The remains were turned over to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, and in 2006, a femur bone was sent to the FBI Missing Person’s Database for DNA extraction and comparison.  It was around this time that police departments across the country were just beginning to utilize bone fragment DNA for identification purposes.

The death investigation was turned over to the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Cold Case Unit.  It wasn’t until September 2010 that police received a break in the case, when the FBI notified detectives that they found a match.  The FBI was able to help identify the remains after matching the DNA to that of Glenn Serratt, 49, last of Justice, IL.  This is the first case of a DNA match for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office using bone fragment remains.

After tracking down family members, CCSO investigators recently notified Serratt’s sister, elderly mother, four children (ages 13 – 23), and his former girlfriend that he had been found.

“Now his family has closure, and knows what happened to him,” said Sheriff Dart.  “The use of DNA and other forensics evidence to identify remains is a powerful law enforcement tool, and while it can’t close every case, we are grateful whenever we can utilize this technology to solve crimes and bring peace of mind to loved ones.”

Serratt’s blood was in the FBI’s database from a 2003 arrest, when he was processed through the Illinois Department of Corrections and had blood taken.  The last time Serratt was seen, in September, 2004, he was dropped off to go camping in the same Forest Preserve where his remains were found.  Though Serratt’s cause of death is undetermined, foul play is not believed to be involved.

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