Portions of this work were presented at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 22–27, 2010, in Seattle, WA.
Skeletal Identification by Radiographic Comparison: Blind Tests of a Morphoscopic Method Using Antemortem Chest Radiographs
Article first published online: 9 FEB 2011
2011 American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Published 2011. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the U.S.A.
Journal of Forensic Sciences
Volume 56, Issue 2, pages 320–332, March 2011
How to Cite
Stephan, C. N., Winburn, A. P., Christensen, A. F. and Tyrrell, A. J. (2011), Skeletal Identification by Radiographic Comparison: Blind Tests of a Morphoscopic Method Using Antemortem Chest Radiographs. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 56: 320–332. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01673.x
Supported, in part, by two appointments to the Postgraduate Research Participation Program at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command-Central Identification Laboratory, administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education through an interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and the JPAC-CIL.
The views and opinions contained herein are solely those of the authors and are not to be construed as official, or as views of the U.S. Department of Defense and/or any of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- Issue published online: 22 FEB 2011
- Article first published online: 9 FEB 2011
- Received 10 Aug. 2009; and in revised form 19 Jan. 2010; accepted 13 Mar. 2010.
- forensic science;
- skeletal identification;
- forensic anthropology;
Abstract: This study investigated the value of antemortem (AM) and postmortem (PM) radiographs of the claviculae and C3-T4 vertebrae to identify skeletons of missing U.S. soldiers from past military operations. In total, 12 field-recovered skeletons and AM chest radiographs of 1460 individuals were used. For each skeleton, examiners analyzed an array of AM chest radiographs (up to 1000 individuals) and attempted to identify the correct PM/AM radiographic match. When examiners were able to compare all images within a single test, only true-positive identifications were made. When AM radiographs were presented one-at-a-time, in sequential order, and without examiners having knowledge of array size, erroneous identifications resulted but they were almost exclusively made by untrained examiners (accuracy = 35% vs. 90% for trained examiners). This study demonstrates the value of chest radiographs for the identification of disarticulated and even eroded skeletons, but only when methods are wielded by trained examiners.