PORT ANGELES, Wash. — Crowdfunding for DNA testing led to the identification of human remains that were found on a Clallam County beach in 2021.
In December 2021, a woman’s New Balance size 8 shoe containing a human foot was found near the mouth of the Elwha River in Port Angeles, according to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.
With the limited recovery of the woman’s remains, investigators were unable to determine much about the woman and exhausted leads about her identity.
In 2022, the sheriff’s office looked to the forensic DNA laboratory Othram to determine if advanced testing could help establish the identity of the woman or a close relative.
To cover the costs, investigators set up a crowdfunding account. The account used by the sheriff’s office was with DNASolves, which specifically focuses on human identification investigations by law enforcement.
According to the sheriff’s office, Othram Labs provided a list of surviving family members matching the identified DNA source to confirm the identity of the remains.
Clallam County detectives contacted one of those family members, who gave a DNA sample that was sent to Othram Labs for comparison. A short time later, Othram confirmed that the foot belonged to a Sequim woman.
Jerilyn L. Smith was reported missing on Jan. 7, 2018. She was 68 at the time of her disappearance, the sheriff’s office said.
“Surviving family members were grateful to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, Othram Labs, and the citizens who generously crowdfunded the familial DNA work performed by Othram Labs.
“The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office would also like to thank all those who participated in funding the DNA research on this case that ultimately helped a family with having some semblance of closure during the grieved loss of their loved one,” the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
©2023 Cox Media Group