DNA Testing Slows Answers

By: Kristen Cosby
By: Kristen Cosby

September 27, 2005
The case of a body found in the woods on Saturday takes a turn. On Tuesday, Edgefield County took over the investigation. News 12 explains why this change may leave families waiting much longer for answers.

The body was found on the Aiken/Edgefield County line and so Aiken County had been handling the case. Coroner Tim Carlton wanted to send the DNA to a private lab for testing. That would bring the families of missing women answers more quickly. Now it looks like they’ll still have to wait.

Bessie Funches walks in to her sister’s room for the first time since she went missing. In August her sister, Rosa Ann Mekevie, went on a walk and never came back. It’s been a tough month for Bessie. She’s even having health problems from the stress of not knowing where her sister is. And to top it off, her son died a week ago.

“It’s just been terrible for me,” Bessie said.

On Saturday hunters found a badly decomposed body in the woods near the Aiken/Edgefield County line. Investigators say it’s a petite black woman, just like Rosa Ann. So Bessie waits again, anxious for DNA test results.

“I want to know if it’s my sister or somebody else,” Bessie said.

And that wait could be a while. Aiken County’s coroner wanted to send this body to a private lab to speed up results. Because of backlog tests could take four or more months at the FBI lab.

“Oh, just tear me apart. I don’t believe I can last four months like that,” Bessie said.

Edgefield County’s Coroner Thurmond Burnett is now in control of the case. Because private tests cost thousands of dollars, he will send the body to an FBI lab.

“It’s very expensive and with the budgets like it is now it’s kind of difficult to get the council to go along,” Burnett said.

It looks like Bessie is in for a long wait. Until then, she’ll hope for the best.

“I just think like soon, she’ll be knocking on that door,” Bessie said.

Edgefield County’s coroner says he will also review the missing person cases in Edgefield County to see if this body matches anyone from there. But he told us this afternoon, this does look to be a long identification process.

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