Identification of girl in shallow grave hinges on DNA testing

By Calvin Palmer

The cause of death and identity of a five-year-old Michigan girl whose body was found in a shallow grave covered by a block of cement may not be known for a few weeks.

Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt said this afternoon the results of the autopsy on a girl believed to be Nevaeh Buchanan are pending and “may remain pending as the investigation continues”.

If the girl was buried for two weeks along the River Raisin during a period of hot weather, figuring out how she died could prove difficult.

Retired pathologist Werner Spitz said authorities would have to rely on circumstantial evidence if reports are true that Nevaeh suffered no broken bones, stab wounds or gunshots.

Spitz said: “You would not find evidence of drowning, you would not find bruising, you would not find strangulation because of the speedy decomposition process.”

That state of decomposition is one reason authorities are waiting on DNA test results to officially verify that the girl discovered Thursday by fishermen is definitely Nevaeh.

Authorities are trying to spare the family the trauma of seeing the girl in such a disturbing condition.

Dental records are often used to identify disfigured bodies but Nevaeh’s father and grandmother said she never had any dental X-rays taken.

Monroe County Sheriff Tilman Crutchfield said this morning that the identification hinges on the DNA results from the Michigan State Police crime lab in Northville.

Crutchfield said last week that there is “reasonable suspicion” the girl is Nevaeh — including clothing matching the description of what Nevaeh was last seen wearing when she disappeared from outside her Monroe apartment complex two weeks ago.

[Based on a report by the Detroit Free Press.]

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