United States Marine Corps Veteran and Public Safety Professional
Travel has been a constant theme throughout my life. Adulthood started as a 17-year-old US Marine traveling all over the world and engaging in multiple conflicts. Travel finally brought me home to Georgia for school and eventually travel took me back to North Carolina to begin my professional career. I have been fortunate to have spent 26yrs working with public safety professionals across the United States, Canada and Mexico. My travels have enabled me to meet and work with Sheriff’s, Chief’s, Mayors, Governors, Congressmen, CEO’s and all manner of industry leaders and politicians. While I was traveling between 40-45 weeks a year and flying in over 100 aircraft, renting dozens of cars and spending countless miles in Ubers, I realized that all around me professional business travelers were doing the exact same thing. Almost weekly, I saw the same folks in airports across the country; boarding, deplaning, checking in with their families and rushing to make the next meeting.
As a husband of 30 years and father to three wonderful children, it never occurred to me that the worst could happen anytime I got in my car or hopped on a plane for a trip. As a business professional, you know the inherent risks associated with travel exist but just accept them as part and parcel of what you and millions of other travelers do weekly for work and hope nothing bad happens. Besides, ‘it will never happen to me’ was the go-to mindset.
I strongly feel we cannot live our lives in fear of the worst but once I understood the power of STR-ID and having a Forever-ID I realized my responsibility. I can prepare and plan for the worst by ensuring my wife and kids not suffer needlessly or be delayed in moving-on should something happen to me. Giving them the peace of mind that I can be identified and brought home is my responsibility to them as husband and father as much as having life insurance and a will. I also realized that my fellow road warriors had the same needs. Most have families and meaningful lives away from the road. They have the exact same need as me to protect my loved ones and take responsibility of ensuring I can be identified should something go wrong.
When I was a young Marine, wearing a dog tags were considered an essential piece of gear no matter the situation or location. Those small pieces of metal around my neck and in my boot- lace gave me the assurance I would be brought back home if the worst happened. In 2020, we can do better. We can utilize the most accurate form of identification known to man. We can use our very own DNA to ensure our identity and a return to our loved ones. Having a Forever-ID from STR-ID is my professional business traveler, father and husband’s modern dog-tag and security.
Vice President of the California State Coroners’ Association
I grew up in a small southern community near the water. It was a quiet, sheltered time of my life. In my twenties, I decided to adventure from my home state of Alabama to attend graduate school at the University of New Haven, located in a satellite location in Sacramento, California. While in graduate school, I explored the different criminal justice fields by taking on internships and was fascinated with the medicolegal field of death investigation. With a master’s degree in Forensic Science under my belt, I started working in the corrections field as a probation officer and eventually moved over into the fascinating field of death investigation. As a death investigator, I investigated all types of deaths, worked with many varied agencies, and worked with so many that suffered from the loss of their loved one. It was my job to not just investigate the death, but often to also guide the decedent’s loved ones as they navigated through their grief.
During my career, I investigated over 1,000 cases and had to identify each decedent. Some were easy identifications requiring only a fingerprint match, but hundreds more of these identifications were much more difficult, and I had to resort to DNA identification. This is probably the worst avenue for a family. Waiting a few minutes for a fingerprint identification is nothing compared to the excruciatingly slow response of traditional DNA identification.
The times I have felt the most helpless in my career was when I had to work with families that were missing someone and had to wait a long time for the identification results to determine if their loved one was still missing or deceased. It was at these times that I felt their grief the most as I too waited for traditional DNA methods to identify someone. During my career, I have worked and managed two mass fatality events. In both events, I had the privilege to work with a faster DNA method to identify victims, but the method was only as fast as finding a family member to give DNA samples for testing. It was frustrating to be so close to making the fastest identifications possible for these victims and heartbreaking to have to include potential family members into the process by asking for samples to help with the identification.
Having a Forever-ID is the missing step in this process. This is so powerful. It takes this step of the long wait for traditional DNA identification to a streamlined, faster answer and removes the families from the equation. It allows science to make this identification unaided by the decedent’s loved ones and is a tremendous time saving step for the field of death investigation. Watching from the sidelines, I can honestly say that you cannot give a better gift to your own family than sparing them the stress of being a part of the identification process no matter if the death is a singular incident or part of a mass incident.