Douglas Martin Prouty
Dr. Emily Craig of Louisville, Kentucky has more than 40 people in her care and their identities remain a mystery. Dr. Craig is one of this nation's leading forensic anthropologists and the people in her care are in the form of unidentified human remains. These remains go back as far as 1973. Dr. Craig's knowledge and expertise proved to be critical in helping solve a 12 year-old Kentucky case of unidentified remains known as the "Madison Man." The "Madison Man" was found on Thanksgiving Day of 1993 near Berea College by some holiday hikers.
This case was one of Craig's first efforts in updating a facial reconstruction and tying it into the collection of DNA samples. Once the facial reconstruction of the "Madison Man" was complete, Dr. Craig had it posted on the internet. This is where Douglas Martin Prouty's family members saw it and with the help of Dr. Craig and Lt. Mark Merriman of the Kentucky State Police, began the process of having their DNA reference samples collected and submitted to the UNT System, Center for Human Identification.
Once Dr. Craig was provided with information linking a potential family to one of her mystery people, she immediately submitted a bone sample to the UNT System, Center for Human Identification for DNA testing.
Over the next several months, the very difficult task of obtaining a DNA profile out of an old bone sample was taking place at the Center. It takes highly trained and experienced forensic DNA analysts to work these older samples. Even with the most modern instruments and the most sophisticated methods, some bones remain stubborn and will not reveal their DNA secrets. Fortunately, for the Prouty family, the staff at the UNT Center was able to obtain a good nuclear and mitochondrial DNA profile from the aged bone sample.
In early October of 2005, the two submitting agencies were notified of a positive DNA match. Kentucky State Police Lt. Mark Merriman, who began reinvestigating the "Madison Man" case three years prior to the identification said that everything that could have been done using older technology had been done when he took over the case. "We thought the case was unsolvable," Merriman said.
It is through new partnerships being formed between forensic anthropologists, such as Dr. Emily Craig, and the UNT System, Center for Human Identification that will ultimately result in more positive identifications. With this comes new hope for finding names for all of the people under Dr. Craig's care.