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Law and Justice

LAJ Masters Student Wins Award

Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office Detective Andrea Blume is one of only two graduating CWU masters students selected to receive the 2013 CWU Center for Leadership and Community Engagement Award.

Her project study for her Master of Science in Law and Justice is “Identifying Missing and Unidentified Persons: A New Methodology”. This annual award is given to one who demonstrates qualities that include excellence, problem solving, initiative, and exemplary work ethic in addition to creating or implementing systemic institutional change and demonstrating service to the community.

A few years before Andrea entered the LAJ masters program, she was working with a case of old human remains found in the Suncadia excavation site. Upon forensic testing, including DNA and dental analysis, it was determined that it was a young woman who had been buried there since the early 1970s. Upon further investigation, she discovered that many counties no longer had missing person files from that era, much less DNA from relatives. Fortunately, based on a published sketch, the deceased's mother was found in the Seattle area and DNA testing verified the relationship.

After meeting with the mother and finding out how satisfied she was with the finding and identification of the remains, Andrea entered upon a mission to discover how many missing persons in the state could not be matched to DNA from relatives in a data base which was checked with the national data base. She discovered that many counties, cities, and universities have remains whose DNA has not been entered into any data base, or had inadequate missing person files that also lack DNA samples. This began her mission and research project.

Andrea's final project for the LAJ masters program is establishing a methodology for connecting missing persons with the thousands of unidentified human remains in the United States. She has connected with all law enforcement agencies in the State of Washington, and is helping conduct a DNA event for collecting DNA from relatives of missing persons so that it can be checked with DNA of unidentified remains. This summer in western Washington, she is heading up an effort to provide DNA collection from relatives of missing persons. This is the first project of its kind in Washington State.

She has given presentations on this work to police professional organizations, received the outstanding COTS presentation paper award in the 2012 SOURCE symposium for her preliminary paper “Identifying Missing and Unidentified Persons: A New Methodology”, and in March 2013 presented her project at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas.

Congratulations Andrea!

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