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.
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 recognition - this 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.
Scars - this 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 recognition.
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.Continue Reading