PBSO forensic team uses new pilot program to solve ‘Baby June’ mystery

Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 8:00 PM EST
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Julie Sikorsky, the forensic scientist supervisor of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Biology Unit, told WFLX she’s “extremely excited.”

"I'm excited we were able to bring this solve to the county," Sikorsky said Thursday. "I'm excited this new technology worked for us. I mean, we expected it, but we didn't think it would be this quick."

Sikorsky said this was a pilot program.

"This was out first case for our genetic genealogy program, our investigative genetic genealogy program," she said. "So this was a case we knew was important to the county. If you live in this county, you know this case."

The case is that of “Baby June,” a newborn found in the Boynton Beach Inlet in June 2018.

"So we were hoping that this new technology, or this new way of solving cases, would bear fruit on this investigation," she said.

That it did, along with a hardworking forensic team at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

"We went onto a site called Family Tree DNA, and we actually uploaded Baby June's profile," Sikorsky said.

She said the team essentially built out a family tree.

"You reverse engineer it," Sikorsky said. "You find that common relative. You build the tree up to say a grandparent, great grandparent or great-great grandparent, and then you look at all of the tree branches, and you might have to build a few down and find some that actually fit to where might be potential parents for Baby June."

The work is done at the PBSO crime laboratory. That's where the initial DNA went through.

"That's what we live for," crime lab director Tate Yeatman said. "I mean, we're here to provide that service, to provide that information, so that our dedicated investigators can do their job and solve these cases."

Yeatman said it's all about providing answers and solving cases.

"Give family members answers that they need," he said.

Yeatman called this a powerful new tool, one that investigators said eventually led to Baby June's father and, ultimately, her mother.

"We really knew this was a tool we wanted to bring into the laboratory," Yeatman said.

Even Sheriff Ric Bradshaw was in awe of the technology.

"When I was a working detective, you were lucky if you got fingerprints," he said. "Then you were lucky if someone could match them up, so it's a whole new world as far as technology is concerned and science."

For the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, this is just the beginning. There are many uses for this.

"Unidentified human remains," Sikorsky said. "We have many cases where a suspect's DNA profile is in the database. We don't know who it is yet, and we can potentially use that to identify that suspect — homicide, a sexual assault. So the applications of this are limitless for those colder cases."

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