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Lecture 2

Anthropology 2235A/B Lecture 2: Lecture 2 (Final)

Course Code
ANTH 2235A/B
Eldon Molto

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Lec #2 1
Lecture #2: Case Studies in Forensic Anthropology
Overview of Forensic Anthropology
Applied branch of bio-anthropology – it is applied because it has practical applications in society
Involves both archaeological and skeletal biology skills
Most often deal with unidentified skeletonized human remains
Long history of application but not recognized as a specific branch of AAFS until 1972, and CSFS in
Diplomat (certification) program started in 1977 – diplomat exams are all done in the USA
Canada has three forensic diplomats: Dr. Melbye, Dr. Skinner, and Dr. Kathy Reichs (also an
Canada has a late history for development of forensic anthropology because we were later to gain
programs in the discipline and the USA had much work on the WWII war dead
Overview of roles of forensic anthropology
1. Site investigation as part of the forensic team
2. Identification of remains
a. Are they human?
b. How many bodies are present?
c. Vital statistics/osteobiography – age, sex, stature, handedness, population/race
d. Unique characteristics – pathologies or anomalies which can help with identification
e. Provide info that could be used by coroner to determine the manner and cause of death (this
can be done in consultation with the pathologist but it is not the forensic anthropologists call)
Forensic Anthropology in Ontario
Each province has its own SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)
Ontario operates on the coroner system
A forensic anthropologists that is recognized by the coroner can be called to provide evidence
oExample: Dr. Scott Fairgreive handles cases in Northern Ontario while Dr. Gruspier handles
the rest of the province and gives permission via the chief coroner to accept others to
provide expert witness testimony in court
Cases are divided into Level 1 (under the Cemeteries Act) and Level 2 (under the Coroners Act of
oThe coroner is approached for all cases because they must decide whether or not it is
forensic in nature and then this classifies it as a type 1 or type 2 case
Regional Coroners in Ontario – there are 10 regional coroners in ON and all report to the chief
coroner who is Dr. Dirk Huyer (Central, Central W, Eastern, Northeast, Regional Supervisor, Niagara,
Northwest ON, SW ON, Toronto West, Toronto East)
In all regions, Coroners are notified of qualified forensic anthropologists
Procedures for Accidentally Found Skeletal Remains
Remains are found  report to police/coroner  contact the forensic anthropologist/government
archaeologist  determine if it is a Level 1 or a Level 2 case
oLevel 1  Cemeteries Act, Native, Non-Native; these are non-forensic cases
oLevel 2  Coroner’s Act; these are forensic cases that will go to court
oThere is sometimes gray area between the Level 1 and Level 2 cases

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Dealing with the Media – typically more for level 2 cases but media is often involved when remains
are reported
Every case is different but a designated point person for dealing with the media is important
oSo you should set one person who will be the only one to talk to the media
Premature media notification can lead to major problems and can make the final disposition
agreement more difficult to reach
Media should only be involved after all investigations are completed and diff groups are in
The concerns of landowners and groups acting for the deceased (first nations) should be
considered before media contact
Any media interest should be directed to the agency that has authority over the burial site
Media photography of remains should be avoided – it is disrespectful to the deceased and offensive
to the representatives for the decreased
Remuneration for Forensic Anthropology Cases – a lot of the time it depends on the case
Costs have been standardized under the Coroners Act of Ontario (CAO)
Travel to the site = $0.3375/km
$94/hr in field or autopsy
$400/case if non forensic – lab analysis and report writing
$60 if animal bone
Per diem in forensic cases varies
Preparing for an Examination in Court
1. Assume any time you are contacted by the coroner that you will go to court (all potentially level 2
2. Make sure you understand all your responsibilities relating to continuity of evidence, time lines,
using destructive techniques, etc. (also your availability is determined by the court)
3. You will be subpoenaed and during the pretrial period meet with defense and crown to discuss
credentials, unpublished material you are assessing , etc (if you are new you may be rejected as an
expert witness)
4. Your final report should be succinct, not too wordy, reporting all relevant facts about your case
5. In court your professionalism and demeanour are vital, it is a difficult game because your data are
often complicated (esp stats) and the audience you are addressing (jury) are lay people – so keep it
simple but exact (remember that a bit of humour is permitted)
6. Remember that lawyer speak and science speak are different – don’t be offended
Discovery of Human Remains in Ontario: Best Practices Level 1
In cases involving human skeletal remains outside a licensed cemetery
Many overlapping interests and jurisdictions of several ministries, agencies, police services, and
other government bodies
Discovery of remains occurs in two basic contexts:
oAccidental discovery
oDiscovery as part of an archaeological project where the archaeologist is licenced by the
Ministry of Citizenship, Culture, and Recreation (MCCR) under the Ontario Heritage Act
When human skeletal remains are found, designated personnel (forensic anthropologist or
government archaeologist) will be contacted by the regional coroner

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Usually the archaeologist is contacted and will assist in determining if the case is level 1 or level 2,
and will also assist the landowner in generating info the Cemeteries Register will require to
determine the nature, extent, and cultural affiliation of the persons buried
Procedures Under the Coroners Act of Ontario: Site Investigation
When human remains are first found the person who is generally unfamiliar with the protocol may
contact an agency other than the police or coroner
In regional coroner’s office there is an appropriate contact list of specialists
If the police are contacted first
oThey must protect the site and minimize disturbance (to retain context)
oContact the local coroner
oCoroner will then contact the archaeologist/forensic anthropologists to help determine if the
skeletal remains are human and if the site represents a crime scene; they can also help
ensure that if it is archeological that the larger heritage resource is secured
oPreliminary exam of the skeleton is essential info for both the Cemeteries Registrar’s Report
and for the appropriate representative of the deceased
oWhen looking at the site you want to ensure that you are not a source of contamination
If the non-crime status is satisfied the Coroner notifies the Registrar of Cemeteries and passes on
any relevant info – the landowner is responsible for preserving and protecting the site until a
disposition is made under the CAO
Under the Cemeteries Act
Registrar has to formally declare the nature of the site: irregular = unintentional interment (burial of
a corpse in a grave or tomb), or an unapproved cemetery, or an unapproved Aboriginal People’s
oCould be a cemetery that was moved to another location
Most cases have the investigation undertaken by a licensed archaeologists hired by the landowner
(list of qualified archaeologists available at MCzCR/MCCR)
MCzCR works with the Ontario Heritage Foundation to write guidelines for the Cemeteries act
oThis act is actually STILL IN PROCESS
Purpose is to provide cemeteries registrar with the data necessary to make a declaration to limit the
amount of archaeological work that must be done
Registrar must determine if:
oInterments were intentional
oCultural affiliation of the deceased (so their ethnicity)
oLimits and mortuary pattern of the burial area
oDescription of any artifacts associated with remains (grave goods)
oEfforts to focus on these and not on detailed excavation
Once the registrar can make a declaration and the locale is determined to be an unapproved
cemetery a representative of the deceased is sought after
oIf remains are Native then the nearest First Nations Government is sought
oIf remains are non-native then the Registrar will attempt to find a representative through
oIf no descendent is found, a representative of the same religious denomination can act for
The representative and the landowner will agree to a disposition agreement outlining what is to be
done with the burials; when an agreement can’t be reached a binding arbitration is provided under
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