UW Oshkosh Professor leading search for missing body of Starkie Swenson in 38 year old cold case


OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – Investigators are breathing new life into a cold case that lagged for nearly four decades thanks to the expertise of an “instrumental” UW Oshkosh professor.

Investigators in the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office describe Anthropology Professor Jordan Karsten as not only a very skilled anthropologist but extremely helpful in putting the pieces together in numerous cases involving human remains.

Detective Kyle Schroeder said, “One of the many things I’ve learned from working with Jordan is his ability to identify remains.”

Professor Karsten is not only applying those skills to this Neenah cold case himself but is leading a team of undergraduate students that will become the future of anthropology.

“They’ve been trained in biological anthropology so they can recognize human vs nonhuman animal bones and so it’s really useful training in order for them to contribute to this kind of investigation,” said Karsten.

Students in the anthropology program will be using state-of-the-art technology to search for the body of Starkie Swenson who went missing nearly four decades ago.

Karsten said, “That training can be really useful for them to go out and survey, excavate, we’re gonna use ground-penetrating radar, in attempt to locate anybody that might be buried in the property in question.”

Karsten said he is frequently called out to determine the origin of bones found across the region.

“It happens probably more frequently than most people know. This case, to me, is really interesting because an individual’s already been prosecuted for it but the body’s just never been found,” Karsten.

He said they can use the information from the investigations in the ’80s and ’90s to help them find the body in 2021.

Karsten is documenting the search in a podcast called “Cold Case: The Frozen Tundra.”

You can find more information here.

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