By: Milena Mata | Contributor
Just one year ago, she was solving cold cases in Alabama. Now, she works for the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
Olivia McCarter is a senior at South Alabama, studying anthropology and criminal justice. Using her talent and hard work to identify homicide victims, McCarter has become very successful at a young age.
McCarter specializes in cold cases involving children. She uses genetic genealogy to track the families of the victims and ultimately identify them. Since working for the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, McCarter has identified four more people. She is currently working on two cold cases.
“I have helped identify four individuals, including Hoover Jerome Morris, who went missing from Cleburne County, Alabama in 1991,” said McCarter.
In addition to working at the cold case unit in Mobile County, McCarter also teamed up with her friends to start Moxxy Forensic Investigations, a company that serves to work on cold cases outside of Alabama.
This all started with an internship after her high school graduation.
“I used that internship to meet other people in the field, and a lot of the big names in investigative genetic genealogy have really taken me under their wing and have helped me to succeed by giving me advice and support,” said McCarter. “I decided very early on that me being so young was not going to slow me down. I was not going to let anyone tell me that I cannot do something. I like to think that I showed everyone what I was made of.”
McCarter also credits Cpl. JT Thornton and Sheriff Sam Cochran of the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office for giving her the opportunity to demonstrate her skills.
“I don’t think that anything that I could ever say to these people would show how much I appreciate what they have done for me,” said McCarter.
Working vigorously at a young age comes with its challenges, but McCarter chooses to focus on the rewarding side of forensic investigations.
“There are days where I do not get to talk to any of my family or friends. There are days where a case gets to me too much, and I break,” said McCarter. “All of these challenges mean nothing as soon as I close a case and get to provide some type of closure for someone’s family, even if I’ve never met them before.”
In addition to the challenges of work, McCarter diligently continues her studies at South. It is important for her to balance these two aspects of her life, no matter how exhausted she can get from her cases.
“I am not going to lie – it is tough,” said McCarter. “I don’t think that I would have been able to finish college, especially during the pandemic, without the amazing professors that I have had classes with. I especially want to shout out Dr. Phillip Carr and Dr. Corina Schulze for, at times, being my rocks. I am very grateful to many of them for being so supportive, understanding, and encouraging.”
After graduation, McCarter plans to continue working for the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office to solve more cases in Alabama.
“There are hundreds of people whose remains are in boxes in morgues without names on them. I would like to identify every single one of them and send them home to their families,” said McCarter. “I believe that every person deserves to have their name on their headstone, and I want to make sure that every person in Alabama does.”