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Bones discovered near where Tulsa man went missing


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Updated: 1/31/2013 9:16 am Published: 1/30/2013 9:44 pm


There are new clues in a mystery along the Arkansas River about the human remains found by hikers in west Tulsa on Sunday.

Detectives are combing through missing persons cases and the medical examiner will analyze the bones.

A skull with a hole in it, dental work and other human bones that could have been there for at least two years were found scattered along the river at 49th West Avenue and W. 12th Street.

FOX23 News went back into his archives and found an interesting missing persons case around that area from 2010.

In July, 2010, Tulsa Police released a missing persons alert for Thomas Wesley Martin, 70, who was last seen at his home in the 5300 block of W. 11th Pl.

Martin lived about six blocks from where the bones were found. Tulsa Police tell FOX23 News Martin is still missing and there’s reason for suspicion.

"It's very hard,” said Chris Martin.

He reported his father missing in June, 2010.

“What's happened to him?" said Martin. "I wake up everyday thinking about this."

Mr. Martin would have been 73 on January 29th.

"It has been tough on me,” said Martin.

Mr. Martin was an avid bicyclist. FOX23 News interviewed an employee with Lee’s Bicycles when Martin first went missing in 2010.

Martin says he talked to his dad Sunday June 27th and called twice the following Monday. He worried when his father’s answering machine was turned off and when he and other family friends could not find him at home they worried. By June, 30th, his son reported Thomas Martin missing.

"I miss him all the time,” said Martin.

FOX23 News found missing persons posters and alerts from Tulsa Police. Martin’s Pikepass was used on June 27th at 1:32pm and June 28th at 2:39am at the Coweta Entry Plaza.

However, his son hasn’t heard anything.

"I promise you it has been a tough road.”

Then two and half years later, hikers come across a skull in the brush in West Tulsa not far from Thomas’ West Tulsa home.

"This is the first time in two years that something this close that has come about,” said Martin.

Medical examiners have not determined who the bones belong to but for Martin with hope comes fear.

"If they tell me it's my father, I'm going to lose it, I'm going to lose it," said Martin.
Thomas Martin’s missing persons case is still unsolved and assigned to the homicide unit.

If you have any information call Crime Stoppers at (918) 596-COPS (2677) or text a tip to “CRIMES” (274637) and begin your message with “TIP918” or you can submit a tip online at www.tipsubmit.com. Remember you never have to give your name and your tip could lead to a cash reward

Identifying bones:

Inside the OSU Forensic DNA lab you’ll find a bovine bone used for research purposes. Inside the bone geneticist can uncover DNA that could be linked to a loved one.

Strong, thick bones such as a femur that carry a lot of weight are the easiest to test for DNA.

Thinner bones such as a skull have little or no DNA. However, in some cases ancient bones can be identified.

"They have successfully gotten DNA from mummified material," said OSU Geneticist Dr. Robert Allen.

In a secure lab Dr. Allen pulls put a human femur that was donated for research.

On the edge of the bone there’s a mark where he can get a good DNA sample.

"Right there is where I grind the sample out," said Allen. "A pretty dense and protective environment to spend an eternity inside."

Depending on how many skeletal remains are intact, forensic anthropologist can uncover height, weight, even race of a person.

"With DNA you just need a chunk of bone," said Allen.

If DNA in bones or teeth is not in a database or if the person never went to a dentist there’s no record. However, geneticist can make determinations such as if the bones belong to a male or female.

"We can't yet find these bones came from a blond hair blue eyed, 32 years old, we can't tell you that yet,” said Allen. "Right now at least you can tell whether or not that person is related to members of a family who has a missing person."

Only can it be determined if a family member of a missing loved one submits their DNA to law enforcement. That can be done at law enforcement agencies across the state.

More than 4,000 unidentified human remains are found every year in the U.S. and after a year, a thousand typically remain unidentified.


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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Mayor Maynot - 1/30/2013 10:21 PM
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