World

After a woman was found dead in the woods, Ohio relied on a forensics expert in the murder case. Was it the right call?

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In the late summer of 2020, four months after Emily Noble was reported missing, her badly decomposed remains were discovered in a wooded area near her home in Westerville, Ohio, a town just outside Columbus. A USB cord was wrapped around her neck.


Authorities turned to a well-known strangulation expert, Dr. Bill Smock, who concluded that she’d been choked to death — and her death had been staged to look like a suicidal hanging. Noble’s husband was indicted in her murder and, in the trial that followed, forensics played a key role. Smock was the prosecution’s star witness.


When the case went to trial in August 2022, a board-certified forensic anthropologist, Heather Garvin, challenged Smock’s claims. Now, three more board-certified forensic anthropologists who reviewed reports from the case for NBC News said the state’s key expert had little evidence to support his claims and raised concerns over his role in the trial.


The three anthropologists, who analyze skeletal remains and are certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, were not involved in the trial of Noble’s husband, Matheau Moore, 52. They reviewed forensic reports obtained by NBC’s “Dateline.”