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Personal Identification of Cold Case Remains Through Combined Contribution from Anthropological, mtDNA, and Bomb-Pulse Dating Analyses

Authors

  • Camilla F. Speller Ph.D.,

    1. Centre for Forensic Research, Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
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  • Kirsty L. Spalding Ph.D.,

    1. Departments of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm 171-77, Sweden
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  • Bruce A. Buchholz Ph.D.,

    1. Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94551
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  • Dean Hildebrand Ph.D.,

    1. Centre for Forensic & Security Technology Studies, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Burnaby, BC V5G 3H2, Canada
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  • Jason Moore B.Sc.,

    1. Centre for Forensic Research, Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
    2. Centre for Forensic & Security Technology Studies, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Burnaby, BC V5G 3H2, Canada
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  • Rolf Mathewes Ph.D.,

    1. Centre for Forensic Research, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
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  • Mark F. Skinner Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Forensic Research, Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
    • Additional information—reprints not available from author

      Mark Skinner, Ph.D.

      Department of Archaeology

      Simon Fraser University

      8888 University Drive

      Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6

      E-mail: mskinner@sfu.ca

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  • Dongya Y. Yang Ph.D.

    1. Centre for Forensic Research, Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
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  • Supported in part by research grants including Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada's RDI fund, SFU Discovery Park Fund, and the Swedish Research Council.

Abstract

In 1968, a child's cranium was recovered from the banks of a northern Canadian river and held in a trust until the “cold case” was reopened in 2005. The cranium underwent reanalysis at the Centre for Forensic Research, Simon Fraser University, using recently developed anthropological analysis, “bomb-pulse” radiocarbon analysis, and forensic DNA techniques. Craniometrics, skeletal ossification, and dental formation indicated an age-at-death of 4.4 ± 1 year. Radiocarbon analysis of enamel from two teeth indicated a year of birth between 1958 and 1962. Forensic DNA analysis indicated the child was a male, and the obtained mitochondrial profile matched a living maternal relative to the presumed missing child. These multidisciplinary analyses resulted in a legal identification 41 years after the discovery of the remains, highlighting the enormous potential of combining radiocarbon analysis with anthropological and mtDNA analyses in producing confident personal identifications for forensic cold cases dating to within the last 60 years.

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