Following her death in an April 27, 2006 arson fire, a Montgomery County Coroner’s Office document indicates that semen was found on the body of Mackenzie Branham during her autopsy.
The document that Mackenzie’s father, Donald Branham, recently shared with the Record-Herald pertaining to the positive result is an investigator’s report from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office investigator Jim Fannin. Although this testing was completed in 2006, this is the first time the information has come to public knowledge. The identity of the person who the DNA belongs to is unknown, as is when the semen was transferred onto Mackenzie’s body.
The investigator’s report states, “[On Sept. 23 of 2006] I did receive a laboratory report from the MVRCL pertaining to evidence recovered during the autopsy of the decedent. Vaginal, rectal and oral swabs were reported to be positive for semen. This case is a contract case from Fayette County which occurred on [April 27 of 2006].”
Mackenzie was born May 30, 1997 and was 8-years-old the day she died. Donald Branham recently held a celebration of her life in recognition of what should have been her 22nd birthday.
Mackenzie’s cause of death was ruled a homicide. The autopsy report specifies cause of death as acute carbon monoxide toxicity due to inhalation of products of combustion. Toxicology shows a 68 percent saturation of carbon monoxide. No arrests have been made in the case.
“Hearing about the death of a daughter dying in a fire at the age of 8 is the last thing a father wants to hear,” said Donald Branham. “Then being told it was an arson and homicide was the most horrifying and heartbreaking thing. I knew I had to search for the ones who did this to my baby girl.”
Mackenzie was located in a second-story corner bedroom when the fire destroyed her home at 7 E. Walnut St. in Jeffersonville where she lived with her mother, Mary Branham, and her mother’s boyfriend, Kenneth Mossbarger. Both the mother and boyfriend escaped the home without injury. By the time firefighters from the Jefferson Township and Washington C.H. fire departments arrived and were able to search the upstairs, Mackenzie was dead.
Donald Branham explained, “After 11 years of not knowing what happened, I found out on Feb. 25 of this year that she was sexually assaulted—there was DNA positive for semen. That’s when my whole world came down on me. I knew it was time to find the persons responsible before they do it again to another child.
“My main question is: why wasn’t I told about the sexual assault and why wasn’t the community told for six years? Why did the DNA sit until 2012 when it was discovered in 2006? The perpetrator still walks among us. I personally don’t want a child to go through what my Mackenzie did.”
Mackenzie’s case is still open and under investigation, so information is not available, according to Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth.
“We don’t want to compromise what we’re doing at this point and what’s happening at this point. [Donald Branham] has compromised some of that information,” said Stanforth.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.