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Police ask for public assistance in suspicious Hamlin death investigation

September 12, 2018 06:36 AM

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office continues to search for answers in the suspicious death of two people discovered in a burned out car on King Street in Hamlin Monday.

Investigators say they are treating the incident like a double homicide. Investigators have spoken with the owner of the red Ford Focus and say that person is cooperating. 

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However, they are asking for your help to put the pieces together. 

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office told reporters the fire destroyed everything in the car that was discovered behind a warehouse on King Street, leaving little evidence for police to identify the two people who died in the car or to solve this crime. 

News10NBC spoke with a forensic pathologist to learn more about the challenges investigators face. 

He says fire can destroy a lot of what investigators usually have to work with. 

"You've got to try to get some material of a biological nature that can be submitted for DNA," says forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht. 

Wecht is a Pittsburgh medical/legal consultant. He is often called upon for his expertise on CNN. He says there are some things professionals can use.

"Even though the bodies are severely burned and soft tissue are gone, destroyed, sometimes there are things you may notice," he said. "It may depend on the position of the body. Sometimes some small area may have been partially sequestered from the flames and intense heat."

Dr. Wecht says in many homicide investigations there are a number of things like physical features that can be used to identify the victim. 

Pathologists can tell if the person had surgery or suffered from a particular ailment.

Wecht says teeth are also used and a match with dental records can give a positive identification. But critical to any investigation, Wecht said, is DNA.

"DNA is the revolution for forensic science that has been available to us in this country for about 30 years," Wecht says.

He adds that even the smallest tissue sample can be tested for a DNA match. However, when a body is burned, none of that may exist. 

Again, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office is asking for your help. 

If you were in the area of King Street in Hamlin Sunday, Sept. 9 or Monday, Sept. 10 and saw anything suspicious, call 911 or 585-753-4175. 

The sheriff's office says it could be several days before positive identities are made. 

Credits

Lynette Adams

Copyright 2018 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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