PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office once again is seeking crowdfunding to pay for DNA testing on a cold case involving a severed foot found on a beach.
“We have no new leads on the foot. Its just a foot that we know Othram has the technology to conduct advanced DNA testing on,” Sheriff Brian King wrote in a Friday morning email.
“Since we were so successful with the first foot, and the DNA testing they do can get us closer to an answer, we are once again seeking the public’s support,” he said.
The fundraising effort through Othram’s DNASolves.com website (https://dnasolves.com/articles/clallam-county-doe-2008/) seeks to identify a human foot inside a sock and shoe found by someone walking along the beach near the old Silver King Resort west of Port Angeles in August 2008.
As of Friday morning, the fundraising effort had received $91.69 toward its $7,500 goal.
Investigators with the King County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the remains found inside of the shoe were part of a human foot. They also confirmed the shoe was a size 11 Everest brand made for the right foot and the sock was a Levi’s brand tube sock that was also recovered.
No other identifying information was discovered and despite investigators’ efforts, the identity of the individual remains unknown.
The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office published a press release on Aug. 5, 2008 that included details of the discovery along with photographs of the shoe and the tube sock but were unable to identify to whom it belonged.
In January, the sheriff’s office hired Texas-based forensics company Othram to solve a cold case from December 2021 involving a severed foot found at the mouth of the Elwha River.
The testing determined the foot belonged to the late Jerilyn Lorraine Smith, who was reported missing on Jan. 7, 2018. Authorities came to believe she died by jumping off the Elwha River Road Bridge and into the Elwha River west of Port Angeles.
Othram is an American corporation specializing in forensic genealogy to resolve unsolved murders, disappearances, and identification of unidentified decedents or murder victims. It was founded in 2018 in The Woodlands, Texas.
“Othram scientists will work to develop a suitable DNA extract that can be used with Forensic Grade Genome Sequencing® to develop a comprehensive DNA profile to be used in records research and forensic genetic genealogy,” according to a sheriff’s office news release.
A genealogical DNA test is a used in genetic genealogy that looks at specific locations of a person’s genome to find or verify ancestral genealogical relationships, or (with lower reliability) to estimate the ethnic mixture of an individual.
According to Kristen Mittelman, chief development officer at Othram, the company is the only one that identifies people from crime scenes versus medical or consumer cases. Its employees are experts in the human genome and forensic grade genome sequencing techniques in the medical field.
Mittelman explained in January that testing for the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System — known as CODIS – uses only 20 markers whereas Othram builds a profile with hundreds and hundreds of markers, sixth cousins and fifth cousins, to pinpoint where the person fits on his or her family tree.
Then law enforcement uploads the results to genealogical databases approved for law enforcement use to determine a match. The company also send the sheriff’s office DNA testing kits to be used on any potential matches to the foot.
Anyone with information that could aid in the investigation is encouraged to contact the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office by calling 360-417-2262 and referencing agency case number 2008-7859.
Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at email@example.com