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Chico State Anthropology Dept. helps identify Camp Fire victims

The Chico State Anthropology Department is helping identify bodies of those who have died, including those in the Camp Fire.

Posted: Oct 15, 2019 11:25 PM
Updated: Oct 16, 2019 1:14 AM

CHICO, Calif. - The Chico State Anthropology Department is helping identify bodies of those who have died, including those in the Camp Fire.

The small team is handling one of the biggest caseloads in the country and is finding closure for those who have lost loved ones.

Colleen Milligan, the human identification lab co-director of Chico State, says in 2018, they worked on 120 cases, excluding those of the Camp Fire.

Since the Camp Fire, though, the team has been identifying victims round-the-clock and across the nation.

"The work we do we recognize as being very sensitive... We want to protect the investigative process so nothing gets jeopardized in an investigation," said Milligan.

"Typically we are called in cases where visual identification is no longer possible. This can be things such as decomposed remains, burned remains..." said Ashley Kendell, a forensic anthropologist and assistant professor at the university.

Just this week, the team helped identify the remains of a missing man who drowned in Folsom Lake over a decade ago.

The department has made positive identifications of over 80 Camp Fire victims.

"Providing justice for the deceased and providing closure for the family members we are working for ultimately," said Kendell.

Kendell says the desire to serve the North State drives the team to do their jobs.

Chico State has the largest forensic anthropology lab in the western United States.

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