February 2, 2023

ATHENA Brownfield’s family may be frustrated at still not knowing her fate, but the identification process is taking a while, a leading forensics expert told The US Sun exclusively.

“You have to do the extra work,” Jennifer Shen, a retired San Diego Police Department lab chief, told The US Sun.

Investigators are studying the area where remains were found in rural Grady County, Oklahoma

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Investigators are studying the area where remains were found in rural Grady County, OklahomaPhoto credit: KOCO
Investigators discovered the remains of a child Jan. 18 in rural Grady County, Oklahoma, about 44 miles east of Oklahoma City

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Investigators discovered the remains of a child Jan. 18 in rural Grady County, Oklahoma, about 44 miles east of Oklahoma CityCredit: Handout

The four-year-old was allegedly killed by her caregivers on Christmas Day and a body was found on January 18 after she went missing.

Shen said the delay in revealing the identity of the body found just means officials are doing everything they can in the case for fear of inflicting further torment on an already devastated family.

“You have to be sure because how awful would that be?” Shen said to make sure the identification of the remains is correct without a doubt.

“You say, ‘This is your child?’ And then, ‘Oh my god, it’s not.’

The family of Athena Brownfield's carers break the silence ahead of the 4-year-old's funeral
Judge signs Athena Brownfield murder gag order ahead of her funeral

“And if you think about it, a lot of forensics is about probabilities. Chances are your whole town has been searching for a missing child.

Shen says due to the winter conditions in which the body was found, the “decomposition is not as high,” although the presence of animals and bugs might speed up the process somewhat.

Still, the forensic team in charge will methodically check every box before breaking the heartbreaking news to family members.

“In a case like this with a lot of attention, you have to go through the whole process. They’re probably doing a DNA analysis right now, and it’s going to take some time.

“By developing a DNA profile, you can compare that DNA to something in that victim’s world: a favorite hairbrush, toothbrush, for example—something that would have DNA on it.

“If they don’t have anything directly related to the DNA, then look for relatives so you can compare the DNA to them.”

“Honestly, you want to be really, really sure,” Shen pointed out.

“You have to do the work to back up your assumptions. It takes a while and it’s frustrating, but they have to do all the work to prove what they know.”

“So it’s very frustrating for people who don’t work in the field. It’s also frustrating for people working in the field. I think we were trained to think that things happen very quickly.

“But the exercises take a while.”

Brownfield’s heartbreaking funeral was held in Oklahoma on Wednesday, despite no official confirmation from law enforcement officials that the body discovered is actually little Athena.

Ivon Adams was charged with murder while he and his wife Alysia Adams were charged with child neglect.

According to affidavits accompanying the arrest, Alysia Adams told authorities her husband beat the tot and buried her body before remains were found in rural Rush County, about 44 miles east of Oklahoma City, where human remains of a child were discovered.

Ivon Adams was arrested in Arizona last week for murder and child neglect in the death of Athena Brownfield

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Ivon Adams was arrested in Arizona last week for murder and child neglect in the death of Athena BrownfieldCredit: AP
Alysia Adams was believed to have been a caretaker for Athena and her sister and was arrested by police and charged with child neglect

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Alysia Adams was believed to have been a caretaker for Athena and her sister and was arrested by police and charged with child neglectPhoto credit: KOCO

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