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How ISP uses new forensics technology to solve cold cases and new criminal investigations

ISP Forensics
Posted at 12:56 PM, Oct 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-18 15:41:52-04

TWIN FALLS, Idhao — Idaho State Police (ISP) and the Twin Falls County Sheriff's office have confirmed the identity of a suicide victim back in 2014.

Jane Doe's identity was revealed as Cynthia Gunnerson of San Diego, California. She was spotted by a kayaker under the Snake River. Investigators deemed the case inactive in 2020 but after a state grant was given to ISP's forensics department, DNA testing was done and the identity was confirmed.

“Technology has advanced the DNA process so much that when this new lab that we partnered up with through the grant from the state of Idaho ran it a different way and using the latest technology that we finally got a hit and were able to identify her,” said Lt. Perry Barnhill of the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office.

Newer forensics technology and a recent state grant lead to the solving of this case and ISP forensics services laboratory system director Matthew Gamette says this technology would not only help solve other cold cases but could be a key contributor to solving homicide and sexual assault cases.

“In this case it’s a missing person or an unidentified individual. In other cases, it’s going to be potentially perpetrators of sexual assault or a homicide or something of that nature,” Gamette said.

Barnhill is grateful for the access Idaho now has to newer forensics technology and says bringing closure to cases like this is important for everyone involved.

“We were glad we could finally put this case to rest. The family was obviously concerned they hadn't spoken to their daughter in quite some time. Who knows if we ever would have bene able to solve this case. I’m very appreciative of the grant that was awarded to the state of Idaho that in turn let us utilize part of it to close this case,” said Barnhill.

Gamette says this technology could usher in a new era of investigation and wants the effort to be collaborative across Idaho.

“It allows us to now sequence the entire human genome which is helpful in this kind of a case because then it allows us to get into some family markers or family DNA.”