Investigators in the Deer Island Baby Doe case have turned to a laboratory in Utah to solve the mystery of where the child was living before she died.
IsoFornesics, Inc. scientist Lesly Chesson says the type of analysis they are doing with tooth enamel and strands of hair is usually a last resort for law enforcement.
“If they’ve come to us they’ve hit a dead end. They’ve probably run fingerprints if they are available, they’ve run DNA but have had no DNA matches in any database that exists” Chesson says.
It’s been about two months since the toddler’s body was found on Deer Island in Winthrop, MA. We know she was wearing polka dot leggings and was wrapped in a zebra striped blanket; but we don’t know who she is.
With no strong leads, police are now turning to IsoFornensics, Inc. The lab find evidence that could predict where Baby Doe might have been in the years and weeks before her body was found.
“She has very long hair,” Chesson explained. “There are basically two or three years-worth of growth. That’s really the crucial period of time. What was happening in those years before death?”
Scientists at the lab showed us how specific environmental elements can be found in teeth and hair based on where you live. Chesson points out that our bodies record everything. “We are basically little tape recorders, recording everything that we eat and what we drink. We take that information back out again and say something about your history”, she says.
It’s a tedious process that takes weeks. Millimeters of hair are wrapped in pure silver capsules, then heated until they turn into a gas. The gas is then analyzed by a machine called a mass spectrometer which crunches the information into numbers. The numbers don’t mean anything until they are compared with maps showing where the chemical elements in Baby Doe’s teeth and hair would most likely be found.
“The tooth will give us about two to three years ago;” Chesson says. “Where was she living; and does that match anything we potentially see with the hair? We don’t know until we see the data.”
Data that the district attorney hopes will help investigators learn Baby Doe’s real name.
Chesson says she doesn’t want to know any details of the police investigation. She says not being emotionally involved keeps her objective and lets the science lead investigators to the clues they need.
She expects to have test results ready for police as early as next week.
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