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Two sets of viable DNA found at potential Tulsa Race Massacre burial site

by Mike Creef, Staff Writer
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Two sets of viable DNA have been recovered from remains found at a potential Tulsa Race Massacre mass burial site.

The lab responsible for processing, analyzing, and mapping the genealogy of the obtained DNA said in a virtual meeting Tuesday that “we’ve got two good samples, and we’re really excited to move on in the process.”

Danny Hellwig is the Laboratory Development Director for Intermountain Forensics, the Utah-based lab where the 14 remains discovered last year were sent for analysis.

Hellwig said that out of the 14 remains, only one bone and one tooth from two of the remains contained enough viable DNA to move forward with the genealogy mapping.

“We’re talking about very very very difficult, very degraded and exposed samples,” said Hellwig.

Two sets of viable DNA found at potential Tulsa Race Massacre burial site

Palpable frustration and anger filled the air as members of the community watched the City of Tulsa rush through a reburial of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims. (Photo by Mike Creef / The Black Wall Street Times)

Forensics lab moves closer to determining DNA of potential Tulsa Race Massacre victims

Last week, Tulsa’s City Council approved $1 million of its budget to go toward the mass graves investigation. 

Currently the investigation includes areas at Oaklawn Cemetery, Newblock Park, west of downtown Tulsa, and The Canes, an area alongside the Arkansas River near downtown.

Hellwig said that the remains of a man in his 20’s with a gunshot wound did not have enough viable DNA to proceed in the process. 

The two good samples will begin DNA sequencing in July or early August.

The next step in the process will require community input from those who believe they may be a descendant of a victim of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Intermountain Forensics said they will need DNA samples and family trees from those who think they may be a descendant to see if they can provide any matches.

If you had family in Tulsa in 1921 or think you may be a descendant of a victim of the Race Massacre, please fill out this form to help with the DNA mapping.

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