Is forensic anthropology stifling efforts to identify our war dead? It is, according to an article co-published by NPR and ProPublica (Grave Sciencehttp://apps.npr.org/grave-science/ Published March 6, 2014). DNA analysis, the article asserts, is what the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) should be utilizing to expedite the process. With only 72 identifications completed each year and tens of thousands of missing soldiers to identify, I might have to agree with them on this one.
For those of you interested in international forensic anthropology, Breaking Bread with the Dead is a must-read. In their article, Eric Stover and Molly Ryan examine the efforts of forensic anthropologists/archaeologists working in war torn regions recovering from genocidal conflicts. The article reflects on the events in Rwanda and the former Yogoslavia, and reiterates the importance of supplemental education for forensic anthropologists interested in international human rights abuse investigations.
Erin Kimmerle, an Associate Professor and Forensic Anthropologist at the University of Southern Florida reported yesterday that the skeletal remains of 55 individuals have been excavated at the former site of the Dozier Reform School in Mariana. 50 people from 9 agencies (yikes) will be involved in the identifications. Apparently, being young, male, and slightly rebellious in the Florida panhandle in the 1950′s and 60′s could be hazardous to your health.
As the detectives sifted through the desert sand at a site where cadaver dogs had detected the smell of decomposition, they should have asked the forensic anthropologist her opinion of the situation before they commented to the press. “It’s a 50/50 chance these are human remains” I heard one of the detectives say on the radio. 50/50? Who’s running this show, I thought. Either it’s human or it isn’t. To the trained eye, there’s not a whole lot of ambiguity.
The Susan Powell case becomes more tragic with each day of this wild goose chase on Topaz Mountain. Follow the bizarre twists and turns here:
How researchers could confuse turtle bones with those of a human I’ll never know, but some think a few bone fragments found on a deserted South Pacific island may be those of the famous aviator. Most intriguing is their association with some makeup and women’s shoes dating back to the 1930′s.
William M. Bass
Ladies and Gentleman, meet one of the Godfathers of Forensic Anthropology. He’s more like the second or third generation, but he has trained more Forensic Anthropologists than you can shake a stick at. Listen to his story here.
The Huffington Post reports this morning that US Forces may have accidentally killed kidnapped British aid worker, Linda Norgrove, in Afghanistan last week during an attempt to rescue her. U.S. Central Command will be leading the forensics. The CENTCOM news release is here
It’s deer hunting season, and you know what that means, people! Yup, the ME is going to start calling with “is this human or critter” type cases. Good thing our hunting enthusiasts are so willing to bring in the goods they stumble upon in the deep woods. I just love fall!