There are various methods of identifying murder victims. Scientists continue to carry out research with an aim of coming up with more complex and accurate of identifying victims of crime such as murder especially in cases where the remains of the victim is aged or extremely degraded. This research paper highlights the various methods of determining the identity of murder victims including in circumstances where only the teeth or the bones of the victim are available for identification of the victim.
Forensic dentistry is an efficient means of handling dental evidence in terms of evaluation and examination that can assist in the identification of murder victim. Forensic dentist can derive evidence such as the age of a victim (especially children) or using the teeth to establish the identity of the owner. Forensic dentistry involve the use of dental records such as post mortem pictures photographs, before death or ante mortem photographs and radiographs (William ,1998). Forensic dentists can equally rely on the DNA information to identify the murder victim. Forensic dentists are therefore able estimate the age of murder victims, use human remains to identify murder victims, assess injuries that result from bite marks and aid identification in cases of mass fatalities. The bite mark on a suspect can help in revealing the identity of the victim, especially in cases where the victim tried to defend him or herself.
Forensic dentists can analyze and compare bite marks with an aim of identifying victims.iot is important to note that teeth are able to resist external damage including severe cases such as fire since teeth are very hard tissues of the body. Using medical or dental radiographs can facilitate the identification of the victim since there is high likelihood that at one point the victim visited a dentist who took the radiograph of the victim's teeth (Rudnick, 2000). It is important to note that forensic scientist should take extra caution and care during the forensic investigation in order to prevent any kind of contamination with a different kind of biological materials when collecting, identifying and preserving the sample.
In cases where only the bones or skeleton remains are available for use in identification of murder victims, the forensic anthropologists can help legal and medical experts to establish the identity of the victim. By examining the skeleton, forensic anthropologists are able to determine the, racial affiliation, stature and sex of the deceased. The forensic anthropologists are equally able to establish the age of the murder victim at the time of death and the period for which the victim has been dead. Forensic anthropologists have the responsibility of establishing identity of the murder victim by examining the bones. The process involves analyzing past medical treatments and injuries. The forensic anthropologists rely on the unique or different skeletal traits among individuals to make a positive identification. The skeletal anatomy variations as revealed by the photographs can also add to the comparative evidence essential for making a positive identification (Rhine, 2001).
Confrontation identification is another method of identifying murder victims. The police can use this method to identify murder victims based on the presumed identity of the victim's body. In this case, a relative or another person can visually confirm the identity of the victim upon confrontation with the appearance of the victim's body or with the face of the victim or the clothes of the victim. An individual can the use identity cards, past photographs of the victims to compare or match with facial characteristics of the victim (Spitz, 2000).
DNA examination is another method of forensic identification used in the establishing the identity of the murder victim. The use of DNA analysis in the past 20 years as a method of identifying murder is because it is quite reliable and indispensible. The law enforcing units especially the police employ DNA testing to solve different kinds of crimes and identifying victims of crime such as murder. There are different types of DNA testing that experts can use depending on their suitability to the situation. In cases where there is little quantity of DNA, a forensic scientist will use a different type of DNA testing other than RFLP DNA examination since this type of DNA testing or examination require large quantity of DNA . In the murder cases where there is degeneration of DNA of the victim over time, a forensic scientist will elect RFLP, as the best option. PCR DNA test is popular because it is easier and faster method of identifying murder victims as compared to RFLP DNA tests (Evans, 1999).
STR is currently a common and popular type of DNA testing that searches for DNA sequences that are short and repeating. This type of DNA testing seeks to distinguish or differentiate the repeating features of an individuals DNA from another in order to establish if the sample is different or similar to the DNA. Mitochondrial DNA testing and analysis is another way of establishing the identity of murder victims especially in cases where other types of DNA analysis such as STR and RFLP cannot be of use. Forensics use the mitochondrial DNA testing or analysis (mtDNA ) in cases where they cannot employ STR ,RFLP and PCR due to the absence of nucleated materials such as bones, hair and teeth. Forensic scientists are therefore able to establish the identity of murder victim by amplifying or copying the DNA samples they possess and making a contrast and comparison with DNA of the murder victim (John, 2004).
Finger printing is another good approach to making a positive identification of the murder victims because it fast and accurate. Fingerprints are the reproduction of patterns created by papillary ridges found on the palm side of thumbs and fingers. This method of determining the identity of a murder victim is accurate to the fact every person has a unique fingerprint and one that is different from fingerprints of any other person (Henry, 1994).
In conclusion, positive identification of murder victims is very important for psychological satisfaction, relief and certainty for the family members of the murder victims since they are certain of the identity of the person they are burying. There are certain traditional methods determining the identity of murder victims such as identification by clothing, jewelry, exclusion, fingerprints, written marks such as tattoo and visual identification. Other methods such as identification by dental or medical records and identification by examining the teeth or bones of the victims are equally very common. It is important to note that DNA analysis and fingerprinting are modern and accurate methods of identifying murder victims.