Here is a look at one of the labs that helped uncover new DNA evidence in Lake Oconee murder

ATLANTA — The murders of 88-year-old Russell Dermond and his 87-year-old wife Shirley have confounded law enforcement for years.

Now, brand-new evidence discovered by two separate labs -- one in Utah and one in Texas -- is offering hope in solving this case.

Channel 2′s Karyn Greer was able to visit the lab in Texas last summer and got a lot at the technology they are using has helped solve thousands of cold cases worldwide including several here in Georgia.

One of those cases was “Baby India,” the Forsyth County newborn found in a plastic bag in the woods.

Othram was able to use something called genealogical testing to solve that case and law enforcement hopes that the same technology will bring closure to this case as well.

Baby India was found about an hour after she was born on June 6, 2019. She still had her umbilical cord attached. Police say she was left there to die.

The nurses at Northside Forsyth Hospital gave her the name Baby India.

After thousands of hours of investigating by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the FBI and Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, investigators decided advanced technology known as familial DNA was needed.


Channel 2 Action News is the only station to visit Othram Labs in the Woodlands, Texas, where the type of analysis is done.

“Traditional forensic testing looks at 20 markers, and then you upload those 20 markers to the CODIS database, which is the FBI database of known perpetrators in the United States. Unfortunately, when you’re working on cases involving victims that are unknown, you can’t do that because the victims are not a known perpetrator. So they’re not going to be in that database,” said Kristen Mittelman, development officer for Othram Labs.

The markers, however, could be in a genealogical database, which is where Othram found Baby India’s biological father.

Police don’t believe the father knew about the pregnancy, but that lead helped them identify Baby India’s biological mother, 40-year-old Karima Juani, who has now been charged with attempted murder, cruelty to children, aggravated assault, and reckless abandonment.

Instead of 20 markers like the current technology, Othram is able to get hundreds of thousands of markers to build a DNA profile.

“Most of our cases are solving between fourth and sixth cousins, and some even beyond. And so that is what you need in order to be able to figure out where someone belongs,” Mittelman said.

Othram has solved 13 cold cases in Georgia. According to Project Cold Case, there are just over 12,500 cold cases statewide.

“Hundreds of cases, every day. Contests that have been stagnant, a DNA dead end for decades. And no hope. And now there’s hope,” Mittelman said.

Othram is one of two labs looking at the Dermond case. The sheriff has asked them to look at more evidence in this case. If they can find that, the sheriff is hoping to be able to give the Dermond family some closure.


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