April 29, 2021

Minutes of the April 29, 2021 meeting of the Rotary Club of Mobile
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by club president Claire McCarron at 12:15 PM.
Invocation: Kim Kelly offered the invocation.
Pledge: Tommy Blankenship led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and welcomed guests of members.
Student Guest: There was no student guest this week.
Announcements: Claire made the following announcements:
• The founders Day Cruise will be held the evening of May 14th and today is the last day tp purchase discounted tickets.
• The Daphne/Spanish fort Rotary Club has announced plans for the 2nd Annual Eastern Shore Pickleball Tournament (a type of paddle ball) to be held on May 15 at 8AM in Daphne’s Lott Park. The club president has extended an invitation to all Rotarians to participate in this fundraising vent. For full information please visit: www.facebook.com/DaphneSpanishFortRotary
Program: Olivia McCarter, Forensic Genealogist
Virginia Guy introduced Olivia McCarter, a sophomore at the University of South Alabama who is also an experienced Forensic Genealogist. In addition to taking a full class load at South, Miss McCarter explained she is working two jobs in addition to studying Forensic Genealogy using DNA samples from volunteers to solve cold case files dating back decades.
Her passion for this subject, she said, was especially strong in the cases involving the murder of young children who have been buried for years as a John or Jane Doe since the identities were a mystery.
One case quite close to home was a baby girl thrown from a bridge into a river in Pascagoula. The very troubling fact in this case was that there was water in her lungs which meant the toddler was alive when she was thrown in, she added. No missing children were reported in the area she said, making this a mystery for decades.
The organization she works for is Redgrave Research Forensic Services. Since most police forces do not have funds to pay for the lab work involved, they typically reach out to the community in which the crime occurred. Using DNA samples it was proven that the child was a native of Joplin, MO who was en route with her mother and her boyfriend to Florida in 1982. While the little girl’s name is known and she has received a proper grave marker, neither her mother nor the boyfriend have been found. The mother’s family feel very strongly that their daughter met a similar fate and await further closure.
Miss McCarter said that today’s DNA testing can prove up to an 8th cousin and that samples collected as far back as 1880 have solved past mysteries involving rapes and murders. This testing freed a man held for 10 years for the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl in Canada and proved that a neighbor had done the crime.
After sharing a number of other case histories with her audience she then answered questions. Claire thanked her for speaking to our club noting that a donation to Reach Out and Read Alabama has been made in her honor.
Claire announced just a single birthday (Norman Pittman’s) and adjourned the meeting at 1:50 PM.
Tom McGehee