Bones as forensic evidence
Article (Published version)
Academy of Criminalistic and Police Studies, Belgrade
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Forensic anthropologists use the theory and techniques of biological anthropology to determine how recently individuals lived and died. They study skeletal remains from crime scenes, wars and mass disasters within the very recent past to reveal the life history and identity of an individual, and to understand the context in which death occurred. During excavation, in order to ensure full recovery and good contextual information, osteologists rely on archaeological techniques to find, document and remove skeletal remains from their in situ conditions. At the crime scene, an anthropologist makes a preliminary determination of whether the remains are human or nonhuman and whether more than one individual is present. Once exposed and mapped, individual bones are tagged, bagged, and removed to the laboratory for more detailed curation and examination. A strict chain of custody is established to ensure that the remains cannot be tampered with, in case they represent evidence in a court of la...w. Once the initial inventory has been completed, a scientist sets about evaluating the clues that the skeleton reveals about the life and death of the individual. The first step in this process is constructing the biological profile of the individual, which includes determining the age, sex, height, ancestry and disease status. Ultimately, forensic anthropologists try to establish the identity of a victim. Once they have several possibilities, they can compare a number of different ante-mortem records (dental records, surgical implants, DNA records, and the matching of ante-mortem and post-mortem X-rays) to try to establish a person’s identity. Although forensic anthropologists most often work on cases of lone victims of homicide, suicide, or accidental death, they are also called to the scenes of mass fatalities, to search for soldiers killed in combat, and to investigate human rights abuses that result in hidden or mass graves.
Keywords:forensic anthropology / crime scene / skeletal remains / biological profile / identification
Source:Thematic conference proceedings of international significance. Vol. 2 / International scientific conference "Archibald Reiss Days", Belgrade, 2-3 October 2018, 2018, 2, 495-508
- Belgrade : Academy of Criminalistic and Police Studies