DNA evidence stored in national system linked Douglas Lanterman to fisherman's discovery

The Express-Times, lehighvalleylive.com
By Precious Petty | The Express-Times
Link to Article

Independence Township, NJ

2011-01-21_G-A_DNA evidence stored in national system_Douglas Lanterman

Questions remain about the circumstance of Douglas James Lanterman's death, but authorities say there is no evidence to indicate the Warren County man was a victim of homicide or foul play.

Authorities this week declared Lanterman dead after a fisherman discovered the young man's femur in Knowlton Township on the banks of the Delaware River in May. Lanterman went missing March 13, 2009, from East Stroudsburg.

DNA samples taken from the bone match DNA samples taken from the missing man's family members. Scientists at the New Jersey State Police DNA laboratory in West Trenton used the national Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, to connect the samples.

NJSP, Independence Township police and Stroud Area Regional police continue to investigate the death for clues about what happened to Lanterman.

Read Tom Quigley's complete report: Questions remain unanswered in the death of Independence Township resident Douglas Lanterman.

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Questions remain unanswered in the death of Independence Township resident Douglas Lanterman

Friday, January 21, 2011
By TOM QUIGLEY
The Express-Times

INDEPENDENCE TWP. It was a fisherman who found the femur that forensics specialists linked to a missing Warren County man declared dead this week, after DNA samples from family members matched up with the upper leg bone, police said.

But the bone discovered last spring on the banks of the Delaware River in the Knowlton Township portion of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area tells only part of the story behind the disappearance and death of Russling Road resident Douglas James Lanterman.

The rest remains a mystery for now, but officials at this time don't believe there's any evidence of a homicide or other foul play.

"We have a puzzle in front of us right now and we want to put some pieces together," said Independence Township police Chief Dennis Riley.

The identification occurred through a national DNA database.

Lanterman went missing from East Stroudsburg, Pa., on March 13, 2009, after telling his parents they might not see him again.

A state police forensic archeologist determined the bone was human after it turned up on the riverbank last May 8, according to Joseph Pastersack, civilian director of the New Jersey State Police DNA laboratory in West Trenton. The laboratory is part of the state police Office of Forensic Sciences.

Forensic scientists at the University of North Texas then obtained DNA samples from the bone and entered the DNA profile in the national Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS.

CODIS is a computer program designed, in part, to enable law-enforcement officials to identify unidentified bodies or body parts.

Riley, the Independence Township police chief, said his department received a lab report Tuesday showing a match among the DNA taken from the bone and samples taken from the missing man's family members.

Questions remain, however, about the circumstances of Lanterman's death.

The New Jersey State Police Major Crimes Unit continues to assist the Independence Township Police Department in the investigation, but Riley stopped short of labeling what type of investigation is being conducted.

Riley said the report he received contained no information about how long ago Lanterman had died. He said if it were possible to determine that from the femur, then the lab report would surely have included that information.

The Stroud Area Regional Police Department and Independence Township police are still investigating, Riley said.

Riley said he and his officers found the case troubling, and it was difficult to notify the Lanterman family of the death.

Reporter Tom Quigley can be reached at 610-258-7171, ext. 3574, or . Talk about issues in your town at lehighvalleylive.com/forums.

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