Clea Koff is a British-born American forensic anthropologist and author born 1972 to a Tanzanian mother, Msindo Mwinyipembe, and an American father, David Koff, both documentary filmmakers focused on human rights issues. She is of a mixed-race and Jewish. She spent her childhood in England, Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, and the United States.
She first studied human osteology in California and then earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Stanford University. Clea also did a master’s program in forensic anthropology at the University of Arizona. She completed her masters degree in 1999 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, after combining her studies with working for the UN between 1996 and 2000.
At the age of 23, Clea joined a small team of UN scientists exhuming victims of the genocide in Rwanda. Her job was to find evidence to bring the culprits to trial, and to help relatives to identify their loved ones.
She captured the events in her memoir The Bone Woman: Among the dead in Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo (Random House) which was published in 2004 in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Argentina, and Canada, 2005 in France and Denmark, 2006 in Norway, Italy, and Portugal, and 2007 in Poland.
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Clea made a debut in crime fiction with her book, Freezing, part of the Jayne & Steelie Mystery Series, which was published by Severn House in the UK in August 2011 and in the US in December 2011. French rights for the book have been acquired by Editions Héloïse d’Ormesson. The second book in the series is titled “Passing” and yet to be published.
Koff founded an Organisation in 2005 called The Missing Persons Identification Resource Center (MPID), a non-profit organization, based in Los Angeles, which is represented by Ellen Levine, Executive Vice President of Trident Media Group. The Organisation is about “essentially linking families with missing persons (in the US) with the Coroner’s Office which hold thousands of unidentified bodies”. The center closed in 2012.