You also must know the location and condition of
our personnel familiar with sensitive operational
information. If a Sailor who knows the details of an
upcoming operation is missing, you need to know
whether he is wounded, dead, or captured, and if the
operation plans have been compromised.
OTHER METHODS OF IDENTIFICATION
Now that we have established the purpose for
forensic dental identification and explained why we
have been tasked to do so, we need to look at why
dental techniques have become so important in
forensic identification operations. To do this we need
to look at some of the other different methods of
forensic identification. Various methods of ID have
been used depending on the individual situation.
Many body characteristics can be used to identify
an individual. Recognition includes using visual,
scars, deformities, and tattoos methodologies.
Visual recognitionthis is the most common
method. It is reserved for instances in which no real
doubt exists about the identity of the individual and
death did not occur under unusual circumstances. Its
drawbacks occur when changes in appearance because
of illness, fire, water immersion, or decomposition
make ID quite difficult. Figures 10-1 and 10-2 show
soft tissue trauma from fire and water. Visual
recognition, therefore, is considered an unreliable
means of identification in medico-legal death
investigation and not usually acceptable as positive
proof on the identity of the deceased individual.
Scarsthis method is useful in some cases.
Surgical scars are probably the most commonly found
but are of the least value since they are seldom
distinctive. Like visual recognition, scars can change or
be destroyed by the same processes affecting visual
Deformities may be either soft tissue
alterations or because of bony abnormalities.
Radiographs of the deformity on file in the medical
record can be useful in the ID process. The bony
deformity must be significantly distinctive, however, to
be of value as a means of ID.
Tattoos can assist in the identification
process. Figure 10-3 shows a tattoo on an arm. Multiple
tattoos would increase the likelihood of positive
Figure 10-1.Charred remains from fire.