Inability to deliver timely DNA testing for ID gets Coroner some bad publicity and a grieving family

This is about a missing elderly man and a male skeleton found months later. My assumption is that he may have either worn dentures (no natural teeth) with no patient name labeled placed in the dentures ( mandatory in some states but generally has poor compliance ), or the investigators could not find any relevant dental records of the gentleman who went missing. The story.

Needing timely DNA profiling of unknown human remains is certainly not “rapid.” Families are left suspended in doubt and uncertainty for months in these cases.

This is not an uncommon event in death investigations, as Coroners are generally the most underfunded units within the law enforcement community. Unidentified death cases are widely disparate within the US. Local Coroners may not have a county or regional crime lab and have to rely on the state-run lab with its associated delays.

This parallels the government run crime labs culture of putting rape kits in the back room refrigerator for years due to underfunding  or just because some police chief has other priorities as happened in San Francisco. They seem to prioritize drug testing quite well though. Most of the time. (A crime lab accused of  cook-booking their pot tests as “origin unknown” to enable felony prosecutions ).


About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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