Local college forensics team works with authorities to identify remains found in Chautauqua County

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A local forensic team is working with authorities in New York to identify the remains of two bodies found in Chautauqua County.

Professors and graduate students from Mercyhurst University are looking to answer questions about who these individuals could have been.

Here is more on the methods these experts are using.

A local forensics team is playing a large role in identifying human remains found in New York earlier this week.

When human remains were discovered first in Portland, New York on September 26th, a forensic team from Mercyhurst University secured the scene.

The chair of the Department of Applied Sciences at Mercyhurst University said that it’s a team effort.

“We focus on the recovery of the remains, but the police and the coroner will try to figure out who’s missing, the time frame of the missing. They may start to gather up dental records or anything that we might get a positive ID out of this individual,” said Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat, Chair of Mercyhurst Department of Applied Forensic Sciences.

Two bodies have been discovered in the same region of Chautauqua County.

A team of professors and graduate students is looking to answer questions about how long these remains have been in that location, and studying the remains to learn more about the age and gender of the individuals.

“The first clue would be whether the individual still has soft tissue. So we have an understanding of how long it takes for the decompression process whether its on the surface or to some degree in the burial,” said Dr. Dirkmaat.

One graduate student said that being part of an investigation like this one gives her the kind of hand on experience to help further their education and career.

“Every time we have a case and it ends up being resolved with a positive identification it kind of gives me a push to keep going,” said Summer Shipley-Meeks, Graduate Student at Mercyhurst University.

She said that it is rewarding to be part of a team and help members of the community.

“We learn the protocols and techniques in class. So to go out on an actual scene and process it and kind of give law enforcement a helping hand and the family some closure it’s just invaluable,” said Shipley-Meeks.

There are several cold cases from that region in New York, the Chautauqua County Sheriff and experts from Mercyhurst are hoping these remains could provide answers to those unsolved cases.

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