|Updated: 11/01/2011 10:54 am
||Published: 10/31/2011 7:51 pm
At the Human Identity Laboratory at the OSU Health Sciences Center in Tulsa, scientists test DNA for about 2,000 individuals every year, but only a handful of those cases involve human remains like the bones found Friday in east Tulsa.
Police are pretty sure the body found in the east Tulsa retention pond is Sheila Scott, a Tulsa mother missing since 2006. For her daughter Tatiana, that news is almost too much to process.
“For it to go from five years and eight months to a few days. That is very surreal, very quick."
Now it's up to the state crime lab to make a positive identification, but one DNA expert believes that won't be quick at all.
“They get dumped on with lots and lots of stuff, and it may take two months to turn something like this around,” OSU Professor Robert Allen told FOX23.
Allen is a DNA identification expert at OSU Tulsa, but he hasn't been called on this case.
“I consult with the US Department of Justice all over the world,” he said.
His Tulsa lab knows how to deal with bones.
“We'll get bones that have been in the desert 10, maybe 15 years,” eh said.
20 years of DNA experience taught him that this identification may be a difficult one.
“The SUV was in 12 feet of water, I don't know how many days of 100 plus temperatures. That's a bad thing.”
Warm water speeds up decomposition.
“Cold water is not so bad but warm water is bad for DNA,” he explained on Monday.
If every bone can be found, he believes there’s a better chance to know definitively who the body is.
“The best DNA comes from the long bones of the leg, the femur, the tibia,” he told FOX23.
Police are not revealing much about the exact state of the body, so there's no way to know if those bones are intact.
For a living person to be tested at the OSU lab it would cost $460. For the laboratory to test human remains in such a bad state of decomposition like the ones found on Friday, the cost can be doubled.
As for Tulsa Police, they are narrowing the scope of the investigation. “We believe we do have a murder and we are going forward with a murder investigation,” Homicide Sergeant Dave Walker told FOX23.
And while Allen said an ID might take two months, the experts at the state crime lab are giving TPD an even longer timeline.
“The positive ID is probably about six months away. We'll have to look at the skeletal remains obviously there and determine who that belongs to,” Walker said.
Walker says already, tips have come in and a cold case has started to thaw with each piece of the puzzle that comes to the surface.
“We have had one come in on the tip line. Somebody remembered something, and now we have to follow up on it."