Texas company details how they helped solve 49 year Gatlinburg cold case

Charlotte Roberta Henry was identified nearly 50 years after her disappearance with the help of DNA testing through Othram Labs.
Texas company details how they helped solve 49 year Gatlinburg cold case
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 10:13 PM EDT
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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) - One of East Tennessee’s oldest cold cases has now been solved after remains nearly 50 years old have been positively identified thanks to the help of Othram Labs in Texas.

According to the Gatlinburg Police Department, Charlotte Roberta Henry was missing since August of 1974 after Henry’s sister told investigators she was last seen at their father’s funeral. After getting the case in 2021, Dr. Kristen Mittelman with Othram Labs said they were able to positively identify the remains as Henry using an extensive process.

“We basically married the forensics process to the genomic sequencing process,” said Mittelman.

Essentially, they were able to use a noninvasive way to extract DNA from bones that were “in really bad shape” and build a family tree while using genealogy data to make a positive identification. Once they had a good idea of who it was several weeks later, they turned their findings over to Gatlinburg Police who then began to contact the family.

“They contacted the closest family member at the time and asked if they knew of someone who was missing and if they’d be willing to give their DNA for confirmation,” said Mittelman.

According to a release from GPD, they reached out to Henry’s sister who now lives in Arkansas, and helped confirm the DNA findings from Othram.

Through a multi-step process, giving answers to a family who had been desperately searching for them for nearly 50 years. Mittleman hopes that this story of perseverance and never quitting on a case regardless of how long it’s been will give others hope.

“It’s hope to the other families that think my crime will never be solved or my loved one will never be found,” said Mittelman.

While a positive identity has been discovered, the circumstances around Henry’s death have still not been determined according to GPD.