NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Two different cases with two different people in two different Tennessee counties are linked together by one similarity — no one knows the identities of the two victims.
“We’re making progress on both of them [and] it’s slow,” said Gina Wrather. “At some point in some of these cases, it just becomes a matter of wait.”
Both agencies needed help identifying these two women, so they called the DNA Doe Project.
“We obtain a DNA sample,” said Wrather. “We contract with a lab to have that sample processed. If there’s a sufficient amount of DNA then that DNA data is put into a file that we upload into a user database called GEDmatch.com.”
Wrather who works as a team lead says they work to contact potential family members through the DNA database.
“We can not do what we do without the matches,” she said.
Those matches recently helped them identify Earl Joseph Pizzoferrato whose remains were found in a golf bag near a lake in East Tennessee back in 2019.
“Some of these cases are really, really tough and take years to solve,” said Wrather. “The cases that take the longest to solve are cases for minorities.”
That’s been the case for the two women found in La Vergne and Maury County. Both are believed to be African American women who Wrather says they are still working to identify.
“They are not well represented in GEDMatch,” she said. “Sometimes the records are a little harder to find, especially if their family recently immigrated within the last three generations.”
Wrather says submitting DNA is crucial, especially since her own helped the nonprofit identify someone back in 2019.
“This was a third cousin,” she said. “Someone I had never met in my life, would have never met in my life, was too far removed from my immediate family to know anything about them, but I was still able to help just by submitting my DNA to GEDMatch.”
La Vergne police and the Maury County Sheriff’s Office are still investigating both cases.
If you are interested in submitting your DNA or learning more about the DNA Doe Project, you can find more information HERE.