Race learned of dead baby


Published: Saturday, January 8, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 11:53 p.m.
DNA test results have identified the race of "Baby Jane," the female infant whose decomposed body was found floating in an Alachua pond more than a year ago, according to an announcement made Friday by the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.
The new information dramatically reduced a field of 50 possible identities of the baby to eight, said Lt. Jim Troiano, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office. Detectives had conducted hundreds of interviews to narrow the field of children born several months before the child's death, Troiano said.
"This is a tremendous breakthrough," Troiano said. "We're hoping someone can bring a name forward and bring some closure to Baby Jane."
The results provide further clues to the identity of the infant who was found in August 2003 floating face down in a pond at a former catfish farm near NW 102nd Place off State Road 121.
Autopsy results indicated the baby was about 22 inches tall, two weeks to five months old and had dark hair.
But the autopsy could not determine the cause of death or the child's race.
The Sheriff's Office paid $1,250 to DNAPrint Genomics Inc., a forensics lab in Sarasota, to conduct genetic ancestry tests on a bone sample from the infant's remains.
The results showed that there was a "very high probability" that the child was of sub-Saharan African ancestry and a "high probability" that the parents and or grandparents were of Caribbean descent, Troiano said.
The tests are part of the DNAWitness program, a new patented test offered since 2003. Scientists compared the baby's genetic strains with 176 genetic markers endemic to different ancestries - such as European or sub-Saharan African genetic strains.
"What's exciting about this test is at some point law enforcement agencies are going to realize if you use this in the first week of the investigation, you can eliminate large numbers of people by knowing what there ancestry profile is," said Zack Gaskin, a forensic scientist for DNAPrint Genomics Inc.
Since the test's inception, Gaskin said the lab has conducted just under 60 ancestry tests.
The FBI and Scotland Yard have used the test program and test results have notably helped narrow suspects in the case of convicted Louisiana serial killer Derek Todd Lee, Gaskin said.
Meredith Mandell can be reached at (352) 338-3109 or mandelm@gvillesun.com.

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