Human Identification Lab at Chico State

In the News

Although the HIL faculty are often prohibited from discussing details, below are a few articles detailing their work in high-profile cases and emergencies.

Chico State Anthropology Dept. Helps Identify Camp Fire Victims

The HIL is helping identify the bodies of those who have died, including those in the Camp Fire, while managing one of the largest caseloads in the country. 

"Chico State Anthropology Dept. Helps Identify Camp Fire Victims"(opens in new window) at Action News Now (October 15, 2019) 

Chico State Anthropology Team Helps Identify Bones of Missing Man Since 1996

The HIL helped solve the cold case of a body found at Folsom Lake in El Dorado County.

"Chico State Anthropology Team Helps Identify Bones of Missing Man Since 1996"(opens in new window) at Action News Now (October 14, 2019)

DPAA Embraces Future Technology

HIL Co-Director Dr. Eric Bartelink gives a talk to the members of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) on using Stable Isotope Analysis to find information on missing personnel for their families and the nation.

"DPAA Embraces Future Technology"(opens in new window) at Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) (July 24, 2019)

Chile to Chico: Fulbright Student Focuses on Forensic Anthropology

Graduate student Jacqueline Galimany brings passion and perspective to her coursework in forensic anthropology. 

"Chile to Chico: Fulbright Student Focuses on Forensic Anthropology"(opens in new window) at Chico State Today (July 11, 2019)

The Search for What Remains

Leading the nation's largest recovery effort since 9/11, Chico State's HIL responded to the Camp Fire for the crucial, yet daunting task of searching for human remains.

"The Search for What Remains"(opens in new window) at Chico State Today (April 23, 2019)

Finding Answers Through Forensics

The HIL's faculty members operate the most experienced forensic lab west of Texas, providing vital information on dozens of homicides, traumas, and cold cases every year.

 "Finding Answers Through Forensics"(opens in new window) at Chico State Today (April 22, 2019)

After Wilfire, Calif. Authorities Struggle to Find the Missing and the Dead (video)

Three weeks after the devastating Camp Fire, 190 people are still missing. PBS reporter William Brangham talked about the state of the area in an interview with HIL Co-Director Dr. Colleen Milligan.

"After Wildfire, Calif. Authorities Struggle to Find the Missing and the Dead"(opens in new window) at PBS New Hour (November 29, 2018)

Paradise: a Grim Search, and Desperate Prayers for Miracles

Just days after containment of the fire, the HIL partnered with local emergency responders and volunteers to search through the ashes of Camp Fire ravaged communities.

"Paradise: a Grim Search, and Desperate Prayers for Miracles"(opens in new window) at Chico Enterprise-Record (November 18, 2018)

Finding Answers in the River

An interdisciplinary team of Chico State faculty and graduate students conducted research on the Sacramento River to establish predictable patterns in the drowning cases (and create an app to aid law enforcement in decreasing recovery time!) - funded by the National Institute of Justice.

"Finding Answers in the River"(opens in new window) at Chico State Today (June 26, 2018) 

Chico State Students Help with Nevada Co. Murder Investigation

70-year-old Vietnam veteran Stanley Norman died due to a violent attack in the backyard of a Nevada City home. Investigators worked with HIL faculty and students to create a clearer picture. 

"Chico State Students Help with Nevada Co. Murder Investigation"(opens in new window) at Action News Now (June 11, 2018)

Blood on the Tracks

HIL aided authorities to follow clues that led across the country by identifying the manner of death and providing expert testimony. 

"Blood on the Tracks: How Detectives Solved the Riddle of Roseville's Train-Hopper Murder"(opens in new window) at Sacramento News & Review (October 5, 2017)

Chico State Lab Helps Law Enforcement with IDs

HIL faculty provided identifying details in a Solano County John Doe case, allowing it to be closed. 

"Chico State Lab Helps Law Enforcement With IDs"(opens in new window) at Daily Republic (July 14, 2016)

What Dead Pigs Can't Teach Us About 'C.S.I'

HIL Co-Director, Dr. Eric Bartelink (also President of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology) underlines the need for more realistic forensic studies in an interview for the New York Times.

"What Dead Pigs Can't Teach Us About C.S.I"(opens in new window) at New York Times (June 13, 2016) 

Speed Freak Killers: More Allegations that Sheriff Botched Recovery of Victims' Remains in San Joaquin County

Dr. Eric Bartelink gives insight into the recovery of remains in Speed Freak Killers case and best practices going forward. 

"Speed Freak Killers: More Allegations that Sheriff Botched Recovery of Victims' Remains in San Joaquin County"(opens in new window) at Santa Cruz Sentinel (November 30, 2015)

Native American Remains Found in West Sacramento

Two human skulls found at a construction site in West Sacramento are confirmed to be centuries-old Native American remains by the HIL. 

"Experts: Native American Remains Found in West Sacramento"(opens in new window) at KCRA 3 (October 3, 2015)

Hi-Tech Analysis Cracks Curious Case of Contaminated Cremains

Following the 2011 cremation of a family member, suspicion grew when the funeral home delivered an urn three weeks late claiming the cremains had been misplaced. Before even opening it, the family sent the urn to the HIL for testing who found them curiously heavy. In a multidisciplinary effort, HIL faculty and partners worked to find answers. 

"Hi-Tech Analysis Cracks Curious Case of Contaminated Cremains"(opens in new window) at Smithsonian Insider (May 7, 2015) 

Case Closed in the 1970s Death of a Corning Woman

HIL faculty find the remains of a woman missing since the '70s on a 100-acre orchard - while teaching students an excavation method called test trenching - leading to the closure of a 30-year-old cold-case homicide.

"Case Closed in the 1970s Death of a Corning Woman"(opens in new window) at KRCR News 7 (February 27, 2014)

Finding Closure: Identifying Human Remains Helps Law Enforcement Solve Cases

After assisting in the case of remains found along the Eel River, Dr. Eric Bartelink gives an interview to the local paper covering the ways forensic anthropologists work to determine the cause of death/injuries and the variety of ways their skillset can be applied - from missing persons cases and homicide to child abuse to determining if remains are recent v. prehistoric. 

"Humboldt: Finding Closure: Identifying Human Remains Helps Law Enforcement Solve Cases" (opens in new window) at The Willits News (April 7, 2013) 

DNA Results of Commingled Remains of Speed Freak Killers' Victims Released

Behind the scenes, HIL faculty played a vital role in the recovery and identification of the Speed Freak Killers' victims and aided in giving justice to families. 

"DNA Results of Commingled Remains of Speed Freak Killers' Victims Released"(opens in new window) at CBS Sacramento (January 9, 2013)