DNA testing provides hope for families of W. MI’s missing

Southwest Michigan

MARSHALL, Mich. (WOOD) — A new DNA testing effort aimed at solving missing persons cases came to West Michigan Friday.

Michigan State Police welcomed relatives of missing persons to their Marshall post where technicians collected their DNA samples. The information will be added to a national database of unidentified remains uncovered across the country.

Hanna Friedlander, a human remains analyst with MSP, says the new testing effort has already solved several cases.

“We’ve had quite a bit of success linking cases through DNA. I think we’ve solved over the past year probably 10 to 15 alone through this type of program,” Friedlander said.

This was the program’s first testing event in West Michigan. Earlier testing was held in metro Detroit and Lansing.

“This is the third one for the year and our goal is to get through all of Michigan over the next year-and-a-half, two years. Just to kind of get some more power behind these unsolved cases that we do have,” Friedlander said.

Detective Scott Marshall with the Battle Creek Police Department says the testing could be crucial to cracking cold cases.

“We have about five cases that range back about 20, 25 years,” Marshall said.

One of those cases is the disappearance of Brandon Anderson. His mother, Felicia Anderson, says she is hoping to find answers to what happened to her son just over 14 years ago when he disappeared in Battle Creek.

Felicia Anderson says her son was last seen in June of 2005 and went missing 10 days after his 21st birthday.

She still is not sure what happened that night and cannot believe what the original investigators told her.

“He was in an accident and that he disappeared and that a state trooper said they saw him run across the highway and scale a 12-foot fence and then cut back across the highway,” Anderson said.

Brandon Anderson’s daughter, Kyia, was only two months old when he disappeared.

“Just really want some closure. I just really do want his daughter to know that he loved her and that he wouldn’t have left her,” Felicia Anderson said.

She is hoping anyone with information will come forward and that entering her DNA into the national database for missing persons will help detectives solve the case.

Marshall says Felicia Anderson isn’t the only relative of a missing person who is hopeful their DNA will mark a turning point in the case.

“They were happy to know there was an outlet for them to come on in and be able to participate and help give myself and other investigators information that they may not necessarily have had back in the time when the case originally was opened,” Marshall said of the families he talked to.

It takes about six months or more for investigators to receive the results.

MSP says the DNA collected through the program is only used for identifying remains and kept separately from the criminal database.

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