After months of trying to identify a homicide victim unsuccessfully, Lexington investigators turned to new forensic technology. They found a crucial clue that helped solve a case open for over a year.
The Fayette County Coroner’s Office and the Lexington Police Department had a tough time moving the case forward after discovering human remains on Cambridge Drive on February 17, 2022, since they couldn’t determine the victim’s identity.
Identifying features on the half-decayed remains were not immediately apparent. Initially, the Fayette County Coroner’s Office reported that the victim “had been deceased for some months” and that he was a younger male, as stated in court documents.
Oram, a forensic genealogy laboratory, assisted in identifying the victim as 40-year-old Jimmy Medlock months after his bones were discovered. Medlock’s former roommate and now-arrested suspect, 35-year-old Jennifer Kashuba, was apprehended thanks to the information provided by Medlock.
HLpublicsafety also covered the news on his official Twitter account:
How a DNA lab provided a breakthrough in a year-long Lexington homicide investigation. https://t.co/ObTxbdx0et
— HLpublicsafety (@HLpublicsafety) March 7, 2023
For the coroner’s office, “the breaking moment in this investigation was when Ortham DNA Laboratory was able to supply us with a name of a possible person who had not been reported as missing or deceased,” as stated in a press statement. “After we had this info, Robbery Homicide was able to trace the deceased DNA sample back to an earlier out-of-state arrest.”
In a press release, Othram stated the victim was about 5 feet and 1 inch tall and weighed around 84 pounds. He also had a thigh tattoo and short, light brown or blond hair.
In March 2022, authorities reported the body to the National Missing and Unidentified People System (NamUs), but none of the leads provided by the system helped identify the deceased. The crucial information was found after the coroner’s office collaborated with Othram later in the year.
Investigators Created Medlock’s DNA Profile
According to Othram, a thorough DNA profile of Medlock was constructed by forensic investigators using a relatively new technique known as forensic-grade genome sequencing. Othram’s DNA profile helped law enforcement verify Medlock’s identity, leading to his arrest and the subsequent prosecution of Kashuba.
According to Othram CEO David Middelman, forensic-grade genome sequencing has been accessible since the company’s inception in 2018. He claimed that the business had flourished recently and collaborated with government entities on the state, federal, and municipal levels.
“It’s a newer type of DNA test that allows us to work situations where CODIS (a program that operates DNA profiles) cannot produce an identification or informative lead to law enforcement,” Middleman explained.
According to Middelman, Othram has spent much time in Kentucky but has never worked a case with the Lexington police.
As opposed to “typical cold cases” that remain unsolved for years, “here’s a case that didn’t work through the standard ways and instantly switched to a different strategy,” as Middelman put it.
Prison documents indicate that Kashuba has been charged with murder, evidence tampering, and corpse abuse. The victim suffered a single knife wound to the chest, according to Kashuba’s arrest paperwork. After her detention, Kashuba reportedly confessed to the stabbing to police.
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