IDENTIFICATION OF HUMAN REMAINS | Kickoff

IDENTIFICATION OF HUMAN REMAINS

19 Apr

IDENTIFICATION OF HUMAN REMAINS

Figure 11.2 The identification of human remains recovered from an air crash [35]. Blood samples were provided by the mother and father who were missing a son. Alleles in the profile of human remains could have come from the mother and father (indicated by the arrows). The profiles were generated using the AmpFISTR® Profiler Plus® STR kit (Applied Biosystems) (see plate section for full-colour version of this figure)

With low paternity indexes the impact of prior odds can be significant. However, with the possibility of analysing a large number of STR loci, the PIs are typically in the millions and the posterior probability of paternity is therefore extremely high, even when the prior odds are very low. In the paternity test presented above, even with the prior odds as low as 0.001, the probability of paternity is still 99.9966%. In addition to the standard paternity testing where them other,child and all eged father are available, testing can also be carried out when the mother is not available [14-17]. More complex relationships can be examined, such as determination of sibship [18] and paternityteststodiscriminatebetweencloserelatives[12,19-21].Calculationscanalso incorporate correction factors to allow for deficiencies in allele frequency databases, in particular, the effects of subpopulations [22, 23] (see Chapter 8). Fortunately, computer programs have been developed to deal with both routine and complex scenarios[24-30].

Identification of human remains

The first application of DNA analysis to the identification of human remains was in 1987, when skeletal remains were profiled using single nucleotide polymorphisms in the DQα locus [31, 32]. Unfortunately, this system did not have high powers of discrimination and it was not until the early 1990s that DNA profiling was successfully applied to the identification of human remains [33, 34]. As DNA profiling technology and methodology have evolved to be more robust and powerful, it has been applied to increasingly complex situations including the identification of people killed in air crashes [29, 35-38]; fire [39-42]; terrorist attacks [43-46]; natural disasters [47] and war [48-51]. STRs are the most commonly used tool but mitochondrial DNA (see Chapter 13) and SNPs (see Chapter 12) have also been employed on occasion.

The matching of human remains can be through comparison to personal objects that belonged to the missing person, such as combs and toothbrushes [52], or by comparison to close family members (Figure 11.2). In cases that involve hundreds of victims, the statistical analysis becomes very com- plex. Because of the high number of pair-wise comparisons that are made between the victims and relatives, the potential for coincidental matches that result in false positives and ultimately misidentifications is significant [47, 52, 53]. The existence of relatives within the population of victims also complicates the analysis [29, 47] and there are limitations as to what can be achieved.

Further reading
Balding, D.J. (2005) Weight-of-evidence for Forensic DNA Profiles. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, pp. 82-134.
Buckleton, J., Triggs, C.M., and Walsh, S.J. (2005) Forensic DNA Evidence Interpretation. CRC Press, pp. 341-437.

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