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Published: Tuesday, 6/9/2009

Nevaeh's family's wait for DNA tests likely to be longer

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - The family of Nevaeh Buchanan likely will have to wait several more days to learn if the decomposed body found last week along the River Raisin is their missing 5-year-old little girl.

Monroe County Sheriff Tilman Crutchfield said Monday that the results of DNA testing being done to positively identify the body of the young girl buried near the water's edge may not be completed until midweek.

The body of a female child similar in age to Nevaeh was found on Thursday by two fishermen just inches from the water. She was buried in a shallow grave and hidden under a layer of cement at the river bank, about seven miles west of Monroe on Dixon Road.

Nevaeh went missing May 24.

She was last seen riding a scooter in the parking lot at her apartment on North Macomb Street in Monroe.

A Newport, Mich., man and his stepfather stumbled upon the grave of a child while fishing from the bank. The body was sent to the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office in Detroit for an autopsy.

Monroe County's medical examiner, Dr. Carl Schmidt, who is chief medical examiner for Wayne County, could not be reached for comment.

Sheriff Crutchfield said yesterday that there were no visual signs of trauma or injury to the body, such as bruises, gunshot or stab wounds, broken bones, or injury from strangulation.

Dr. James Patrick, Lucas County coroner, said the length of time between death and the autopsy and temperatures during that period are among the variables that could affect the medical examiner's ability to make a ruling on the cause of death.

The general rule is that the longer the body has been left to decay, the more difficult it is to determine a cause of death, Dr. Patrick said.

"It is possible at the autopsy you may find internal evidence of manual strangulation in the form of broken bones in the larynx and so that may permit you to come up with a cause of death," Dr. Patrick said.

"On the other hand, it is absolutely correct that the longer you go from the time of death to the discovery of the body and autopsy the less chance you have of making a determination," Dr. Patrick said.

Dr. Schmidt completed his pathology residency at the former Medical College of Ohio while working in the coroner's office under Dr. Patrick.

To identify the body, investigators will rely on DNA testing instead of dental records or using visual identification.

Nevaeh's father, Shane Hinojosa, said he was told that his daughter had never been to a dentist so teeth X-rays were not available to investigators to assist in the identification process.

Yesterday, Nevaeh's mother, Jennifer Buchanan, remained inside her apartment at Charlotte Arms. Sherry Buchanan, Nevaeh's grandmother, came outside briefly to talk to reporters and went back inside her home.

The sheriff again appealed to the public for any information that might be useful in the crime to call the task force's tip line at 734-243-7070.

Convicted sex offenders George Kennedy and Roy Smith, both of whom were arrested after Nevaeh's disappearance on parole violations and questioned, have been sent to the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson.

John Cordell, prison spokesman, said both men admitted to the parole violations they were accused of and recommendations for their return to prison were made by their parole officers.

Those decisions were supported by parole violation specialists.

Among the charges that Kennedy, 39, faced were having contact with Nevaeh and her family and failing to tell his parole officer that he had moved.

Smith, 48, was found to have committed a substance abuse violation, Mr. Cordell said.

The men could be ordered to serve the rest of their sentences.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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