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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 222144 Find in a Library
Title: Skull-Photo Superimposition and Border Deaths: Identification Through Exclusion and the Failure to Exclude
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:53  Issue:1  Dated:January 2008  Pages:34-40
Author(s): Todd W. Fenton Ph.D.; Amber N. Heard B.A.; Norman J. Sauer Ph.D.
Date Published: January 2008
Page Count: 7
Type: Case Study
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In a case from Ajo, AZ in which five individuals died after crossing into southern Arizona from Mexico, this paper reports on the application of video skull-photo superimposition as an identification method.
Abstract: Two unidentified adult female skulls and a photograph of a missing Hispanic female were submitted to the Michigan State University Forensic Anthropology Laboratory. Using video skull-photo imposition analysis, the authors excluded one skull as a match and included (failed to exclude) the other skull. These results were based on extensive comparisons of cranio-facial proportionality, as well as the comparison of a number of morphological features of the face and skull. Because this case was a "closed disaster" with a known roster of missing persons, the exclusion of one skull and the inclusion of the other represented the circumstantial identifications of two individuals. Using the evidence collected at the scene where remains were found by a hiker in a remote desert area near the southern Arizona town of Ajo, investigators at the Forensic Science Centers in Tucson and the Pima County Sheriff's Office worked with the Consulate of the Republic of Mexico in the attempt to identify the deceased. Through these multiagency cooperative efforts, the names of the five missing persons were determined. Because of the level of certainty of this list of names, the situation was considered a closed disaster. This paper reviews the history of the methodology of skull-photo superimposition methods and describes the methodology used in the current cases. 6 figures and 41 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Arizona; Death investigations; Immigration offenses; Investigative techniques; Photographic analyses; Photographic identification; Victim identification
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