Smithsonian expert to assist in identifying bones in cold case
by Rachel Davis
Aug 20, 2013 | 1491 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Douglas Owsley, head of the Physical Anthropology Division for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History who assisted the FBI in identifying remains following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is now assisting with identification and, hopefully, the cause of death in the case of the remains found in a West Virgina storage facility.

Those remains, reported to be partial remains of two individuals, are believed to be Mary Cobb and her daughter, Wynona Delvecchio, who were 104 and 83 years old, respectively, when they went missing in 2002 from their Jasper residence.

Owsley also assisted with identifying the remains of the Branch Davidians following a fire at the group’s compound in Waco, Texas, assisted with identification of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims and worked on numerous historic archeological digs around the country.

Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair and Assistant District Attorney Brian Warren confirmed that Owsley was conferring with the West Virginia Medical Examiner on the case, which they believe will expedite the identification process and hopefully be able to identify the cause of the death.

Warren also confirmed that a skull recovered last year under a Jasper home once occupied by the women will also be sent for evaluation by Owsley once the University of Texas completes the long process of mitochondrial DNA collection that they hope will also assist in identifying the remains.

The suspect in the disappearance of Cobb and Delvecchio, 61-year-old Wanda Kiser, is in police custody in a West Virginia hospital after she reportedly took a variety of medications as police closed in to arrest her.

West Virginia authorities are calling it an attempted suicide. She is charged with concealing or assisting in concealing a body, which is a felony count in West Virginia that carries a penalty of one to five years in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 if she is convicted.

Kiser has previously served time after she confessed to fraud in 2006, when she pled guilty to stealing more than $10,000 in retirement money intended for Cobb.

Kiser is currently facing a 17-count indictment for forgery relating to Cobb’s retirement funds and other documents filed last month by Adair.

If convicted, each second-degree forgery charge is a Class C Felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. She has been fighting extradition on that case since early July.