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WVU students partner with Atlanta organization to solve cold cases

The West Virginia University Department of Forensic and Investigative Science and the College of Law Innocence Project recently partnered with the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute, a non-profit organization based out of Atlanta.
Cold Cases
The Institute is a network of professional experts, including students and researchers from academic institutions, who develop new capabilities and work collectively to advance research, training, and techniques in solving cold cases. Any “solvability factors” identified within a case file will be shared with investigating agencies accordingly. 

This ongoing partnership provides an opportunity for students to become involved with real cases and allows them to offer a fresh perspective to the interpretation of events and evidence. 

The August 13 weekend offered students their first opportunity for hands on collaboration. 

Annita Price, a young mother, was reported missing in 1974 from the Benwood, W.Va. area. This case has remained cold, but her daughter and son, who were ages 5 and 3, respectively, at the time of the presumed crime, have grown up seeking answers. 
West Virginia State Police cold case team commander Danny Swiger put much work and many hours into this case before the cold case team was disbanded. That is when Annita’s daughter, Madonna, sought help from the Institute. 

With guidance from Swiger and Institute Director Sheryl McCollum, WVU Forensic Science Academy for Professionals Director Kelly Ayers coordinated a team of forensic anthropologists and forensic archaeologists from Western Carolina University and Ohio State University to assist other volunteers coordinated by the family in an additional effort to search for Annita’s remains. 

Unfortunately, while excavating the area of interest, a clogged drain pipe presented water issues that were not able to be overcome and the excavation was postponed. For more information aboutthe weekend’s activities, go to the report from WTOV 9: 

If you have a skill set to contribute to this effort or would like to contribute funds to support the continued search, please contact Kelly Ayers at