Loss Of Grant Money Impacts Oklahoma Cold Cases

Wednesday, March 15th 2017, 4:49 pm

The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office has identified the remains of a Tulsa woman that were found 25 years ago.

But because of the loss of key federal grant money, future cold cases may be more difficult to solve.

A team effort between the sheriff's office, the state Medical Examiner and the University of North Texas led to the identification of Greta Riles' remains.

3/15/2017 Related Story: Remains Found In 1992 Identified As Missing Tulsa Woman

"UNT is the premiere agency to handle these things,” said Casey Roebuck with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. “They take the DNA sample, they put it in several missing person databases and they try to match it to loved ones who've submitted a sample."

In 1992, a hunter found a skull near 56th Street North and Highway 75. Deputies found more bones days later.

That case sat unsolved for years until Sheriff's Office Cold Case detectives sent the remains to UNT.

They got a hit on a name this past December. The ME confirmed it was Riles.

"The DNA technology has advanced so far since many of these cases happened, there's a good chance that we're going to solve some of these cases behind me," Roebuck said.

Because of a federal grant, UNT has been able to process remains like those of Riles for free - but that grant money was not renewed this year.

The ME's office said that means unidentified remains that they haven't sent to be processed now aren't going to be.

Roebuck said, "That's going to affect cases right here, locally. The ME tells me that she has dozens of unidentified that she had hoped to submit to UNT and now the funding isn't there."

That may leave families waiting for answers even longer.

The sheriff's office said at least two John and Jane Doe remains that they've already sent to North Texas have been processed, so the funding cut won't affect those cases.