Friday, March 27, 2009

CSI Alaska - The Van Zandt Case DNA details

I posted about The Severed Arm and Hand Mystery back in August 2008, which covered the publicity surrounding the identification of Francis Van Zandt as the person whose body parts were found in an airplane crash in Alaska back in 1947. In my post, I lamented the fact that the role of the forensic genealogists was not explained and that I would love to learn about the research process involved.

Colleen Fitzpatrick, who has the Forensic Genealogy web site and is a principal in the Identifinders International company, passed along a link to a Scientific American article titled CSI Alaska: Air crash victim identified after 60 years published 26 March 2009. The article describes the search for a match to the mitochondrial DNA extracted from the body parts.

Read the article for all of the details. There's a fascinating twist to the discovery of an mtDNA match - it wasn't that easy. I love stories like this that show the real benefits of forensic genealogy.

Why do they do this? The article ends with:

"Fitzpatrick said that the experience can help identify the bodies of fallen soldiers from past wars. 'The reason we do this,' she said, 'is to make sure that there is no more Unknown Soldier.'"

Well done!

1 comment:

Terri said...

Very interesting - it's really wonderful the work these people do to identify missing soldiers!

Along those lines you may enjoy reading my current series of blogs titled "Going Home - The Unexpected" -