Forensic Expert Seeking Clues In Woman's Remains

By David Hedges, Publisher

A renowned forensic anthropologist who has assisted police in cases such as the 9-11 Pentagon plane crash and recovery and identification of members of the Waco Branch Davidian compound is now helping with the case of a Spencer woman whose remains were discovered more than seven years after she came up missing.

Christian Starcher Seabolt was 18 when she disappeared in August 2002, after she left her mother's apartment in Spencer to get a pack of cigarettes.

Remains found last December near Creston in Wirt County were later identified as Seabolt's. The State medical examiner's office used dental records to make the identification.

Now that the identification has been made, police are hoping to get more information from what was found by hunters in a pine thicket about 25 feet from the road in the Groundhog Ridge area.

The remains have been turned over to Dr. Douglas Owsley, the head of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Owsley has worked on cases including the first victim of Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer who murdered 17 men and boys in Ohio and Wisconsin and kept many of their remains in his apartment. Owsley also assisted with exhumation and identification of war dead from the former Yugoslavia.

"We're beyond the identification stage now," according to Sgt. Brad Snodgrass of the State Police detachment in Spencer. He said police are hoping to get information including the cause of death and how long Seabolt's body was in the location where it was found.

"Now we're trying to find out what happened to her," he said. "This is an expert who is world-renowned and at the top of his field. If anybody can find out the cause of death, it should be him."

Owsley's current research is focused on human skeletal remains from the 17th-century Chesapeake region of Virginia and Maryland. He is co-curator of an exhibition which just opened at the Museum of Natural History entitled "Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th Century Chesapeake" that will remain open until February 2011.

Snodgrass said police are continuing to work on the investigation on their own while waiting on Owsley's report. "We're going through old case files and tal

king to officers who have worked on the case in the past and some people who might have some information," he said.

Persons with information are asked to contact the Spencer detachment at 304-927-0950


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