Christopher Montalvo, age 32, was reported missing by his mother in January of 2002. Skeletal remains were found of February 19, 2004 in a south Texas ditch along County Road 411. The Bay City Police Department recovered the remains and sent them to the UNT System, Center for Human Identification in April of 2004 for both forensic anthropological examination and DNA analysis. The Bay City Police Department had collected buccal swabs from Maria Ramirez Montalvo and Francisco Montalvo, Christopher's parents, and submitted them to the Center in March of 2004.
Dr. Harrell Gill-King, Nationally Certified Forensic Anthropologist, and his staff are part of the team that forms the UNT System, Center for Human Identification. Dr. Gill-King is a world renowned Forensic Anthropologists located on the campus of the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. They determined that the remains belonged to a hispanic male, 30 to 40 years of age and a height of 64 to 67 inches. Dr. Gill-King estimated that the interval from the time of death to the discovery of the remains was between 6 months and 2 years. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the cranium. The manner of death was homicide. A cutting from the tibia was taken and submitted for testing to the partner DNA laboratory located in Fort Worth.
Over the next few months, mitochondrial and nuclear DNA testing was performed on the reference samples and the bone sample submitted to the UNT Center. In November of 2004, after DNA profiles had been completed and entered into CODIS, a match was made. The DNA analysis indicated that the genetic results were greater than 524 million times more likely that Maria Ramirez Montalvo and Francisco Montalvo were the biological parents of the individual represented by the bone sample.
Dr. Gill-King and the forensic DNA analysts working the case were called to provide expert testimony during the trial of the suspects associated with this homicide. Based upon the forensic anthropological conclusions and the DNA identification of the human remains, Lorenzo Miguel Lara-Haynes was convicted for the murder of Christopher Montalvo. Lara-Haynes was given a life sentence. Three other suspects have also undergone trials and are now serving lengthy sentences.
This case is one more example of how the collaboration between forensic anthropology and DNA technology establish a unique symbiotic relationship ultimately providing the identification of human remains and accountability for the perpetrators responsible for the homicide.