Concepts of Identification
Why is identification important?
• wills cannot be executed
• Spouses cannot remarry in certain instances
• Identification of a body is helpful for legal reasons
• Identification of a body is important because it gives the family of the recovered
body – closure!
From an investigative perspective:
• 86 % of victims know their killer
• Homicides are rarely solved if the victim is unknown
Identification starts with a general biological profile including:
• sex determination , age estimation and ancestry assessment. The determination of
these 3 factors will eliminate most of missing people. This will then leave and
provide you with a list of POTENTIAL identities. The police will focus their
attention using the missing persons database using the list of potential identities.
Matching Missing Persons & Unidentified Remains
• CPIC – Canadian Police Information Centre
• NCIC 2000 – National Crime Information Centre – available to federal state and
local law enforcement
• Missing persons are searched against unidentified remains with the list of
• All data of missing persons are entered using a STANDARD format into a
computer. The computer will recognize points of similarity, assigning point
values to MATCHING criteria like age, sex and date missing and then it will
produce a threshold score. This indicates how good of a match it is that you have
Types of Identification // Skeleton – PRESUMPTIVE ID
• this happens by exclusion of preponderance of evidence. Excluding all evidence
and come to the conclusion that ID is just based on two people. OR that you have
a lot of evidence to the favor of one particular individual.
• This accounts for looking at: bony abnormalities, normal anatomical variation,
matching medical records, video or photo superimposition. • Facial reproduction via drawing or model reconstruction. This is done so that you
can jog someone’s memory, which leads to more potential leads.
Securing a Positive I.D :
• dentition (forensic Odontologist) Can look at surgical plates & other hardware of
the mouth and teeth of a victim. Odontologist will look at and identify frontal
sinus & cranial structure patterns
Factors that Influence Identification include:
• the person must be reported in order to be identified. This is influenced by
lifestyle choices like those of high personal contact, i.e – university students
• The availability of good ante-mortem reords for comparison like:
* dental records, xrays, medical records, photos
ID is dependent on the percentage of skeleton recovered! If the complete skeleton was
recovered (According to a study by Komar & Potter, 2007), 89% would be ID’d. If less
than 50% of the skeleton was recovered, 24% would be ID’d. If the skull was recovered –
87% would be potentially recovered. IF no skull was present – 61% only , would be ID’d.
The availability of x-rays adds to identification! Ante mortem xrays taken for diagnostic
purposes also help. Commonly found parts of an XRAY that are found and identified
quickly are the skull and femoral fragments because they are more dense and robust.
Identification Theory – an expert’s opinion of uniqueness of features. The source from
which the match is made from must be looked at.
• Don’t forger that experts are not rigorous. Intuition must be backed up by
quantitative facts and by something that can be measured. Things like
morphology for example are very subjective.
Parry Fractures (defensive wounds) will be rare among the general population but will be
common in people that are reported missing, and generally these