Coventry University forensic students helping solve international cold cases - The Coventry Observer

Coventry University forensic students helping solve international cold cases

Sonny Rackham 6th Aug, 2023 Updated: 7th Aug, 2023   0

A GROUP of Coventry University students have been helping to investigate German cold cases of missing women from the past 50 years as part of an international analysis project.

Third-year biological and forensic science students Madara Ozola and Larissa Tchuda Correia and second-year student Faye Cotter joined more than 100 other students from across the globe, police academies and law enforcement agencies in Europe and Australia to participate in the fifth International Cold Case Analysis Project (ICCAP).

During ICCAP the three students used analytical skills developed during their studies to help review 10 cold cases being investigated by German police.

The students worked on the cases of six missing young women and one homicide from between 1977 and 1986.

They reviewed the files and looked for contradictions in witness statements.

The cases were compared with other missing persons from the wider region as well as with several homicides of young women who were also considered missing before they were found in 1981 and 1982.

The students also analysed two cases of elderly women who were murdered while traveling on their bicycles in the same region on the same day of different years and the murder of a widowed pensioner in 2004, whose body was found several months after the crime.

The Coventry University students presented their findings to investigators and international experts and are now waiting to hear if their work has led to any new leads.

As part of the project, the university students digitalised copies of original files, analysed crime scene and autopsy photos, reports and evidence logs.

The students also forwarded recommendations to re-test blood samples and fibres for DNA which were previously inconclusive due to inferior technology present in the 1970s and 80s.

Recommendations also included scouring ancestry and geneaology databases full of data from people submitting their DNA to understand their family history and heritage.

Faye Cotter said: “There have since been huge advances in the testing of blood and fibres for DNA, so we put forward a recommendation to see if we can learn anything new.

“If there are unknown DNA profiles, we could potentially find matches that generate new leads.”

Due to their impressive work the trio have been invited to take part in the sixth ICCAP project, which has just started.

Larissa Tchuda Correia said: “Working on ICCAP helped us see the reality of the roles we want to go into when we graduate and helped us develop our practical skills by working with real evidence, police statements and witness statements.

“The cases are not easy, they left an impact, and we really felt the responsibility of how the work impacts on other people’s lives and the feelings of the families involved.

“Hopefully we are potentially helping someone find closure.”


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