"The Bone Lady" – forensic anthropologist Mary Manhein of Baton Rouge – is one of the featured speakers in the adult science series “Looking Under the Lens” that begins Tuesday, June 11, at Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center in Shreveport.
Manhein head’s up LSU's Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services Laboratory. She also directs Louisiana’s repository for missing and unidentified people – a database of 250 unsolved cases. Manhein is called on by law enforcement agencies in Louisiana and around the country to identify remains.
"We will figure out the profile, age, sex, ancestry, and how long it’s been since the person died. We try to understand what happened to that person," Manhein said, during a phone interview. "So our major role is to identify the person, and then try to figure out what happened and get that person back to his or her family.”
Manhein’s expertise in forensic pathology helps detectives solve perplexing mysteries. Her third book on cold cases is due out in the fall from LSU Press. Perhaps most notably, Manhein exhumed the body of Governor Huey P. Long’s alleged assassin to better understand the motivations behind the killing. Manhein finds that technology has come a long way in helping crack cases.
"Modern technology has played a major role in helping us to go faster, do things that are more accurate, and get a close view of dental apparatus," Manhein said. "However, it’s still that good old detective work that helps get these people identified.”
Manhein speaks at Sci-Port on Tuesday, June 18, at 7 p.m., as part of an adult lecture program put on by Omega Diagnostics to explore genetics, forensic science and DNA. Tonight’s talk is on genetic testing.