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Meet the Expert, Forensic Anthropology: Dr. Robert Yohe
Meet the Expert, Forensic Anthropology: Dr. Robert Yohe

Thu, Sep 21

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Online Virtual Event

Meet the Expert, Forensic Anthropology: Dr. Robert Yohe

Forensic Archaeology in the Recovery of Evidence in the Jeff Towers Homicide Case in Idaho. Parental discretion advised for this event due to the mature nature of the topic.

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Time & Location

Sep 21, 2023, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM PDT

Online Virtual Event

About the Event

THE USE OF A FORENSIC ARCHAEOLOGICAL APPROACH IN THE RECOVERY OF EVIDENCE IN THE JEFF TOWERS HOMICIDE CASE IN IDAHO 

SEPTEMBER 21, 2023

5:30PM - 6:30PM

--Only one reservation required per group--

*Parental discretion advised for this event due to the mature nature of the topic*

In 1995, 19-year-old Jeffrey Towers made an ill-fated visit to “friends” in southern Idaho that ended in his senseless murder and the attempt by the four defendants in the case to destroy evidence . After a tip as to the approximate location of Mr. Towers' remains was received by Idaho state law enforcement officials, the State Archaeologist at the time (Dr. Robert Yohe) was contacted by the Department of Forensic Services to see if he could assist with the recovery of what would be extremely fragmented human remains using archaeological field methods. After two days of field recovery in a snowstorm, more than 1,200 burned and fragmentary human bones were transported to the laboratory of Forensic Services where the long process of sorting and identification of the pieces was undertaken with the goal of determining if the remains were indeed those of Mr. Towers. Based on the forensic anthropological analysis of the bone fragments, it was determined the material recovered represented the remains of a single young adult male between the ages of 17 and 21 years of age. The evidence based on this study was used by the state of Idaho in the conviction of the four defendants, all of whom ended up in prison for the murder of Jeffrey Towers. This case serves as an example of the utility of the employment of forensic archaeological field recovery methods of a body disposal crime scene.

Dr. Yohe has been doing archaeological research in Western North America for the past 43 years, with an emphasis on the archaeology of desert hunter-gatherers of California, the Great Basin, and the Plateau. In 2003, Yohe became the zooarchaeologist and human osteologist for the University of California, Berkeley Tell El-Hibeh Project and was later appointed as an Associate Director of the project in 2007. 

He is currently a Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Bakersfield, where he has taught for the past 24 years. His areas of expertise include zooarchaeology, replicative lithic technology, human osteology and forensic anthropology as well as the use of immunological methods of protein residue analysis on stone tools and human paleofeces. 

Yohe received his B.A. in Anthropology from California State University, San Bernardino in 1983, and graduate degrees in Anthropology from the University of California, Riverside, his M. A. in 1990 and his Ph.D. in 1992. He served as the Assistant Director and then Director of the Cultural Resource Facility at California State University, Bakersfield between 1990 and 1993; between 1993 and 1996 he was appointed State Archaeologist and Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, and in 1996 was appointed the Idaho State Historic Preservation Officer by Governor Phil Batt. Concurrently, Dr. Yohe taught Anthropology courses at Boise State University as an Adjunct Assistant Professor and served as the Director of the Archaeological Survey of Idaho. In 1999, he accepted the position of Assistant Professor of at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB), whereupon he also was appointed the Director of the Center for Archaeological Research (formerly the Cultural Resource Facility), a position he held until the facility closed in 2008). In 2003, Yohe became Director of the Laboratory of Archaeological Sciences at CSUB, the specialty of which is the analysis of stone tools and human paleofeces for ancient plant and animal proteins using cross-over immunoelectrophoresis.

Dr. Yohe has been the recipient of a significant number of grants and awards, including a joint recipient with two geology colleagues of a grant for an electron microscope used for the analysis of archaeological materials, and an Egyptian archaeological research grant from the American Research Center in Egypt for archaeological resource management and site preservation at Tell El-Hibeh in Egypt. Yohe has also been the recipient of the Millie Ablin Outstanding Professor Award (2007-08) and the Faculty Scholarship and Creative Activities Award (2017-18), among many other awards related to scholarship. Dr. Yohe was also the coauthor (with Mark Q. Sutton) of the popular archaeology textbook Archaeology: The Science of the Human Past (2003-2008; Pearson/Allyn & Bacon), and has more than 100 professional publications as author or coauthor in the form of monographs, book chapters, and articles in journals including American Antiquity, Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, California Archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Science, Journal of Ethnobiology, and also the journal Science.

--Only one reservation required per group--

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