Alumni Updates

Dental Detective


John McDowell
John McDowell

John D. McDowell, ’70, has crossed paths with the infamous outlaw Jesse James. James was killed in 1882, but for decades rumors circulated that the dead man was someone else and that James lived well into the mid-20th century. McDowell, a forensic odontologist, participated on a team of experts that examined the body buried in 1882. DNA from a molar confirmed that the body belonged to the notorious bank robber and murderer.

McDowell is a recognized expert in identifying domestic-violence victims through oral and maxillofacial injuries. With two radiologists, he cowrote A Radiologic Atlas of Abuse, Torture, and Terrorism and Inflicted Trauma. At the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, McDowell is director of oral medicine and forensic sciences and chair of the division of oral diagnosis, medicine, and radiology.

He has received several honors at the university. He was selected as Outstanding Didactic Dental Instructor from the school of dentistry and has received the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence. For his accomplishments in forensic dentistry and commitment to faculty governance and leadership he received the Joseph Addison Sewall Award in May 2004. He is married to Linda Beal McDowell, ’70, and they have four children.