The UNT Health Science Center was approached by the Cook County Sheriff's office in the summer of 2011 after the law enforcement office renewed efforts to identify eight victims who had remained nameless. As part of a grant from the National Institutes of Justice, the Center for Human Identification and the UNT Health Science Center provides U.S. law enforcement agencies and coroners DNA analysis of found human remains. The world-renowned laboratory doesn't charge for its services.
"Many labs process and analyze nuclear DNA," explained Arthur Eisenberg, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Identification at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas. "Mitochondrial DNA analysis is our area of expertise. It's more difficult to extract from the remains --- principally human bones. But mitochondrial DNA doesn't degenerate as much as nuclear DNA. It is passed on from mothers to their children. So we can compare the mitochondrial DNA of a victim with a DNA sample from the mother, sister or brother in order to make an association between the two."
The DNA association, along with forensic and descriptive information such as the height of the victim, clothing or jewelry found and dental records can create a reasonable conclusion and identification. In this case, DNA from a brother and a sister were clearly associated with that of Bundy.
Although the Health Science Center received bones from all eight of the unidentified victims, only four yielded complete DNA profiles. Due to degradation from age and environmental exposure, the other four only yielded partial profiles. So far, DNA samples submitted from families who suspect that their brother, son, father, uncle or nephew was one of Gacy's victims hasn't matched any of the unidentified victims.
But the Cook County Sheriff and the researchers at the DNA facility at the UNT Health Science Center haven't given up on identifying the last seven victims. They will continue to analyze DNA submissions from families who are searching to determine what happened to their loved one.
The UNT Health Science Center comprises the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Public Health, and the School of Health Professions. Key research areas include aging and Alzheimer's disease, applied genetics and primary care. This year, the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine was named a top 50 medical school in primary care by U.S. News & World Report for the 10th consecutive year. The organization contributes more than $600 million to the Tarrant County and Texas economies annually.