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Indoor Wet Screening of Exhumed Skeletal Remains: A Suggested Procedure for the Preparation of Fragile Evidence for Anthropological Analysis

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Abstract:

Abstract: 

The 2007 exhumation of three children’s graves, located in rural upstate New York and dating to 1979 and 1980, was warranted as their mother had come under suspicion for the death of a child she had been babysitting in late 2006. The local March weather conditions had been wet, and heavy rains fell during the 2-day process of casket removal. The extremely wet soil and the poor preservation of two wooden caskets increased the likelihood of damage to evidence. After remains’ transport to the forensic center, an indoor wet-screening station was established so that skeletal elements could be (i) separated from soil matrix and (ii) preserved carefully for analysis. Not only were the remains relatively small and fragile in comparison with those of an adult, but two of the three remains were known to be fire damaged, thus the use of special laboratory preparation techniques was crucial.

Keywords: burned skeletal remains; forensic anthropology; forensic recovery; forensic science; perimortem fractures; wet screening

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01398.x

Affiliations: Department of Criminal Justice, College at Brockport, State University of New York, 164 Albert W. Brown Building, Brockport, NY 14420.

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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