Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Teeth as unique as fingerprints

Ah, doing the “fun” stuff today, working on the office reorganization, budget for next year and related stuff. (I am also finding out that much that I had relied a subordinate to get done had not gotten done, so some in my staff and I are playing catch-up)

But I did have an interesting conversation (actually among several about cases in progress, it just seems I am only working on the stuff I mentioned above) with a forensic odontologist whose services we use. He was dropping off his report identifying a recent “Jane Doe” case, the skeletonized remains I discussed before. He had prepared his report identifying her (with a reasonable degree of medical certainty) based on comparing teeth present in (on?) the skeletal remains with photographs of the suspected female that included a view of some of her teeth. His opinion was that it is “a match”.

He told me that an authoritative Forensic Science Journal had just published a study on the excellent validity of such identification techniques which came out after he had completed his report. In our case the points of comparison were striking even without full dental comparison.

Your teeth are indeed as unique as your fingerprints.

[We do have DNA comparison with her mother pending as well.]

Then late in the afternoon we got a call from a dentist who had treated this young woman in the past and had seen the report of her skeletal remains being found. We will now be able to do a full dental comparison, but I (as is our forensic dentist) am confident that our “match” will only be further confirmed.

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