A Texas lab that just helped identify an Indiana teen whose remains were found decades ago in Campbell County is taking on another East Tennessee mystery: the genetic identity of a newborn found floating in 2020 in Melton Hill Lake.
"Baby Wyatt," as authorities eventually dubbed him, was found in the water in March 2020. Someone had thrown his body into the lake, authorities said.
The baby's umbilical cord was still attached, the body wrapped in an oversized shirt that had snagged on a rock, police said.
Earlier this year the city of Oak Ridge received a $5,200 grant to help with genetic identification of the newborn.
Othram Inc. of The Woodlands, Texas, confirmed with WBIR this week it was helping in the case.
"I’m optimistic we will have an answer soon," Othram Chief Development Officer Kristen Mittelman said.
Mittelman said experts were trying to match the baby's genetic profile with genealogical information in a database available to law enforcement and researchers.
A $1,000 reward remains available for anyone who can provide tips to the city on the child's identity.
Last week, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Othram revealed that after testing and research unidentified bones found in the Elk Valley community of Campbell County in 1985 were those of 15-year-old Tracy Sue Walker, who disappeared from Lafayette, Ind., in 1985.
An Indiana newspaper reported she'd last been seen at a shopping mall in town.
Now that Walker has been identified, investigators can pursue leads about how she ended up in Campbell County, some 400 miles away, and what might have happened to her. Authorities suspect she was a homicide victim.
Othram also is taking on trying to identify an adult woman whose body was found in 2000 floating in Melton Hill Lake, Mittelman said this week.
Oak Ridge police say they can't bury the child until they know who he really is.
In March, ORPD Capt. Mike Uher told WBIR: "We realize things happen in people's lives that make them act out of character and do things that they normally wouldn't do. You have to have a heart for that ... but we still have a baby that was floating in the water and I'd like to solve it."