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Summary

In March 1989, the remains of an unidentified person were discovered at Kensington Avenue and Pauline Place in Buffalo, New York. Buffalo is located in western New York State at the eastern end of Lake Erie. Buffalo police responded to the scene. The remains were determined to be those of a female, believed to be of Native American or Hispanic descent. The woman was between 20 and 25 years old, 5 feet 1 inch tall, and weighed 100 pounds. When the woman was found, she was wearing a “Coqui” brand tracksuit with blue pants and a long-sleeved blue and gray striped top with the word “Zipcode” written on it. Underneath the pants were a pair of mid-length white thermal underwear.

In July 2014, the details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP12703. Despite extensive efforts by law enforcement investigators to identify the woman, no matches were found and the case was not pursued further due to a lack of viable leads.

In 2022, the Buffalo Police Department turned over forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas. Othram scientists were able to develop a DNA extract from the forensic evidence and use Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to create a comprehensive DNA profile of the woman. After successfully completing the process, the DNA profile was turned over to the FBI’s forensic genealogy team, who performed the necessary work to develop new investigative lines for the case.

With this new information, a follow-up investigation was conducted which led investigators to possible relatives of the woman. This investigation led to the positive identification of the woman as Sonya Yvette Archie. Sonya was last seen in September 1988 and was later reported missing. If you have any information regarding Sonya Yvette Archie, please contact the Buffalo Police Department Homicide and Cold Case Squad at 716-851-4511. You may also call the confidential tip line at 716-847-2255.

Funding for the advanced DNA testing and forensic genealogy used in this case was provided by NamUs, a national clearinghouse that assists law enforcement in investigating and resolving missing, unidentified, and unclaimed persons cases in the United States and its territories. NamUs is funded and administered by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and is administered under a contract with Research Triangle Institute International. We are grateful for the support of RTI, NamUs, and the NIJ.

The identification of Sonya Yvette Archie is the ninth case in New York State in which officials have publicly identified a person using technology developed by Othram. The most recent identification was in Suffolk County, New York, of Lucie Van Heeckeren, whose remains were discovered next to a bike path. It took a decade for her to be identified.


Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Head of Case Management

2829 Technology Forest Blvd Suite 100, The Woodlands, Texas 77381

[email protected]

Michael works with law enforcement agencies across the United States and Canada on “unsolvable” cases that can benefit from modern DNA testing methods. He helps these agencies develop investigative approaches to their cases using cutting-edge DNA sequencing and new forensic techniques.