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Houston-based lab helped ECSO identify human remains found in Gardendale in 2019

Last week, the Ector County Sheriff's Office and Texas Rangers identified human remains, found by a rancher and his son in a pasture, as Timothy Daniel Gomez.

GARDENDALE, Texas — Last week, the Ector County Sheriff's Office and Texas Rangers identified human remains found in a pasture as Timothy Daniel Gomez.

A rancher and his son found his bones near a tank battery back in 2019.

ECSO investigators have been trying to identify those remains ever since their discovery. They have finally done it, thanks to new advancements in DNA technology and genetics.

ECSO partnered with a lab near Houston called Othram.

NewsWest 9 spoke with David Mittelman, CEO for Othram. He explained how they used DNA to put a name to the remains that were found almost two years ago.

"Its the kind of profiles that you see when you use forensic evidence like the ones in use in CODIS (Combined DNA Index System)," said Mittelman. "They capture like 20 DNA markers. The kind of testing we do, it works on challenging DNA evidence, and we capture it from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of markers instead."

Mittelman told NewsWest 9 the lab uses DNA markers like the ones used by law enforcement in CODIS, but their process uses more information.

"In this case we used what is called geological search," said Mittelman. "There are online tools that we can use to basically do a comparison against our person with many other folks that have volunteered profiles and are looking for relatives themselves. Just finding the most distant relatives, like in this case, we are able to build the family trees and we work our way back."

Mittelman said the sheriff's office uses that profile to do their own DNA tests to confirm the victim's identity.

"This extra lead is enough to get them to the finish line," said Mittelman. "It's wonderful because these cases otherwise will sit unsolved sometimes for decades."

Investigators are still seeking further help on this case. If you know anything regarding the case, you are asked to contact ECSO Investigator C. McMeans at 432-335-3050, Texas Ranger J. Strain at 432-498-2120 or Odessa Crime Stoppers at 432-333-TIPS (8477).

RELATED: ECSO identifies human remains found in Gardendale in 2019

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