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NCJ Number: 218701 Find in a Library
Title: Use of Digital Imaging in the Identification of Fragmentary Human Skeletal Remains: A Case from the Republic of Panama
Author(s): Ann H. Ross
Date Published: October 2004
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: US Dept of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation
Quantico, VA 22135
Sale Source: US Dept of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation
Laboratory Branch
2501 Investigation Parkway
Quantico, VA 22135
United States of America
Document: HTML
Type: Case Study
Format: Document (Online)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper describes how the photographic superimposition of digital images resulted in the positive identification of a "disappeared" Chilean national found buried in the Republic of Panama.
Abstract: This case illustrates how modern computer-imaging software can be used in the photographic superimposition of fragmentary skeletal remains. This method is particularly useful in cases that involve limited resources and when more expensive and rigorous methods for positive identifications, such as mitochondrial DNA, are not feasible. A black-and-white photograph of the missing man was provided for comparison. Because the remains had been buried for an extended period, the skull was fragmentary; however, some unique facial features were intact, allowing comparisons to be made. Postmortem images were taken in the field with a Sony Cyber-shot model DSC-F717 digital camera. Using an IBM-compatible computer and the Adobe Photoshop 6.0 software, the postmortem image was scaled and rotated to fit the facial angle observed in the antemortem image. The digital image of the skull was overlaid onto the antemortem image that had been scanned into the software. The image of the skull was then moved in order to align the anatomical structures, using the "hand tool" of the computer software. Anatomical consistency was examined for glabella, nasal bone structure, shape of the eye orbit, and the cheek bone. Significant anatomical consistencies were observed in the antemortem and postmortem images, and the remains could not be ruled out as those belonging to the suspected missing person. In addition, the uniqueness of the nasal bone structure and glabella were consistent with known structural features of the missing individual, such that a positive identification was made. 6 figures and 8 references
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Computer aided operations; Death investigations; Foreign criminal justice research; Forensic sciences; Investigative techniques; Panama; Photographic analyses; Photographic identification; Photography techniques; Victim identification
Note: From Forensic Science Communications, N 4, V 6, October 2004; downloaded June 5, 2007.
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