The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Resolving missing and unidentified persons cases: Results of multidisciplinary efforts and new data collection technologies


1Criminal Forensic Division - Forensic Art Unit, Broward Sheriff's Office, 2Broward Medical Examiner's Office

Friday Afternoon, 200DE Add to calendar

There are an estimated 1000 unidentified bodies in the State of Florida with nearly half of them found in South Florida. The resolution of unidentified decedent cases can be of great importance to the families of missing persons and establishing the identity of the unidentified is vital to the resolution of case status, including judicial activities.

In 2007, Investigator Crane of the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office (BME) initiated a resurrection in the interest of unidentified decedents handled by the BME. In her efforts she retrieved over 100 boxes of remains that were not on site at the BME’s Office. In October, 2008 while developing the investigatory analysis, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) and the BME entered into a formal arrangement to examine all missing and unidentified decedent cases within their respective and overlapping jurisdictions. BSO and the BME’s Office continued to catalogue the remains to ensure that the proper forensic analysis of all cases be completed and entered into NamUS. To date, over 111 cases with combined efforts have resolved the identity of 11 individuals.

Twenty six unidentified persons were buried by the county prior to the development of contemporary biometric methods, which include STR based typing methods utilizing mini- and Y-STR PCR multiplexes that enables the analysis of inhibited and degraded DNA. The use of these techniques and 3-D GPR technologies will be presented. As Fred Smith has said, the identity is in the anatomy, you just have to look at it properly.

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