On Monday at the Cedar Hill Cemetery in Daytona Beach, FL the remains of a teenager, known as John Doe 1972, were exhumed by Volusia County Sheriff’s Office so that forensic scientists can run DNA tests and do a facial reconstruction in the hopes of identifying the boy.
The boy, estimated to be in his early teens, was stabbed to death and his body found on May 3, 1972, in a pond near Indian Lake Road. His fingers were removed by detectives and sent to the FBI for fingerprint analysis. Since DNA was only discovered in 1953, the possibility of DNA testing in a forensic setting was not a possibility at that point.
After the grave’s location was found, sheriff’s investigators contacted the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory at the University of Florida. The lab’s director, Dr. Michael Warren, and some graduate students exhumed the grave with staff from the county’s medical examiner’s office. The forensic team found some glass jars, most were broken, but there was one jar that still held one of the teen’s preserved fingers, which had been returned to the grave by the FBI. When the team found they boy’s remains inside a rubber body bag, and when Warren opened the bag he found the boy was likely younger than originally thought. The stabs wounds on the body were also still noticeable.
The remains were placed in a new body bag and sent to the C.A. Pound laboratory. DNA will be extracted from the skeleton and the results will be sent to The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. The university participates in the President’s DNA Initiative, launched in 2004, with one of the goals being to provide the use of DNA for missing persons cases and identifying human remains. It has become a recognized national center providing scientific and technical support to law enforcement agencies, medical examiners and crime labs throughout the country.
The C.A. Pound laboratory will take a CT scan of the boy’s skull and send that to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s National Forensic Unit. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will do a facial reconstruction that may could also help to identify the boy. Sherriff’s investigators believe the effort will take several months.
Video of the exhumation:
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