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Going Public: Southeast Anthropology Professor And Her Students Are Working To Solve A Mystery

Dan Woods
(L to R) Sarah Portell, Emily Reese, Dr. Jennifer Bengtson

Dr. Jennifer Bengtson, Associate Professor in the Department of History and Anthropology at Southeast and her students are working to help solve a mystery. She joined me in the studio, along with Southeast seniors Sarah Portell and Emily Reese to discuss their work.

Credit Anthony Redgrave
Forensic depiction of Charleston, MO John Doe

They are working to help identify human remains that were recovered in Charleston, Missouri, in 1979. Bengtson says this case drew her attention because it was different from other archeological cases she had been working on.

Bengtson and her students started their work by using traditional forensic anthropology methods to identify human skeletal remains from an unidentified individual. They developed a biological profile of the person including their sex, how short or tall they were and how old they may have been when they died. They submitted a DNA sample to a national missing persons registry but didn't receive any leads. So, they have turned to a fairly new method, forensic geneology, to help with this particular case.

Redgrave Research

Dan is a 1994 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University. He majored in radio and minored in political science. He spent three of his four years at Southeast working as a student announcer at KRCU – the beginning of his radio career.