WEBVTT 00:00:06.000 --> 00:00:10.000 Vance: Thank you so much. Thanks to Western Oregon University for having me. 00:00:10.000 --> 00:00:15.000 I'd like to tell you a little about our program at the medical examiner's office 00:00:15.000 --> 00:00:22.000 and really a very small facet of what is considered a holistic view of death investigation. 00:00:22.000 --> 00:00:28.000 I divide my time between two actual entities that are basically under the same umbrella. 00:00:28.000 --> 00:00:36.000 One is the Oregon State Police Forensics Division. I'm a forensic scientist for the Oregon State Police Crime Laboratory in Portland. 00:00:36.000 --> 00:00:43.000 Our building is located in Clackamas, Oregon. I'm a forensic biologist, meaning that's my primary discipline. 00:00:43.000 --> 00:00:50.000 I look at physical evidence for biological fluids, things like blood and semen, hair, saliva. 00:00:50.000 --> 00:00:57.000 Any kind of trace evidence are the things that I look for on physical evidence from criminal acts. 00:00:57.000 --> 00:00:64.000 In addition to that, I spend some of my time over at the medical examiner's office, or the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Division. 00:01:04.000 --> 00:01:08.000 And in that capacity I am our state forensic anthropologist. 00:01:08.000 --> 00:01:15.000 So I participate in death investigations with our pathologist there at the laboratory and throughout the state 00:01:15.000 --> 00:01:20.000 to determine certain things about skeletal anatomy of the individuals that we're looking for. 00:01:20.000 --> 00:01:27.000 So the realities of forensic laboratory and of the medical examiner's office are quite different. 00:01:27.000 --> 00:01:35.000 As you can see, in a forensic laboratory we have things that are very evidence-based. Things like latent print analysis, toxicology. 00:01:35.000 --> 00:01:40.000 Obviously our DNA unit is there located at the forensic laboratory as well. 00:01:40.000 --> 00:01:48.000 We have things like ballistics and firearms analysis. Our forensic biology unit, which I'm a part of, deals with physical evidence. 00:01:48.000 --> 00:01:55.000 Crime scene analysis is kind of an offshoot of the forensic laboratory in the fact that forensic scientists go out to crime scenes 00:01:55.000 --> 00:01:60.000 and we will recognize and preserve and collect evidence that are there at the crime scene. 00:02:00.000 --> 00:02:07.000 And trace evidence as well is located under this forensic laboratory silo of information, if you will. 00:02:07.000 --> 00:02:12.000 In contrast to that, the medical examiner's office, which is housed in the same building, 00:02:12.000 --> 00:02:18.000 has quite a different role that it plays in these death investigations or these criminal investigations. 00:02:18.000 --> 00:02:27.000 Obviously we're investigating deaths. Any suspicious or unattended death in Oregon is under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner. 00:02:27.000 --> 00:02:34.000 So our investigators statewide will respond, again, to those suspicious deaths and unattended deaths. 00:02:34.000 --> 00:02:40.000 Not a death in a hospital. Not a predetermined hospice expiration, if you will. 00:02:40.000 --> 00:02:47.000 So things that are, again, suspicious and unattended. That is the medical examiner's jurisdiction. 00:02:47.000 --> 00:02:52.000 We determine manner and cause of death, and when I say 'we,' I really truly mean our forensic pathologists 00:02:52.000 --> 00:02:60.000 that will do a manner and cause of death determination in addition to signing the death certificate of that individual. 00:03:00.000 --> 00:03:03.000 Our investigators also collect evidence at the scene. 00:03:03.000 --> 00:03:10.000 If we think that this could potentially be an overdose scene, obviously we're going to have some evidence at that scene to collect. 00:03:10.000 --> 00:03:15.000 Things like needles. Things like drug paraphernalia, prescription bottles. 00:03:15.000 --> 00:03:24.000 Things of those nature that will have to be collected at that scene in order to gather information and complete a successful investigation. 00:03:24.000 --> 00:03:28.000 My role in death investigation is really just in anthropology. 00:03:28.000 --> 00:03:36.000 And I say 'just in anthropology,' it tends to be a large role depending on the nature of the individual that we're looking at. 00:03:37.000 --> 00:03:44.000 So as you can see, death investigation has many, many facets. There's a lot of people involved in one investigation. 00:03:44.000 --> 00:03:48.000 We have the actual investigator that works for the medical examiner's office. 00:03:48.000 --> 00:03:55.000 We have lead detectives. We have our medical examiner. We have crime scene supervisors. 00:03:55.000 --> 00:03:65.000 We have discipline specialists like trace analysts, people who can come out and look at a footwear impression in the mud and determine certain things or collect it successfully. 00:04:05.000 --> 00:04:11.000 We have prosecutors or district attorneys that are quite often on a scene of death. 00:04:11.000 --> 00:04:17.000 We have tracker or cadaver dogs. A lot of different people can be involved in a death investigation. 00:04:17.000 --> 00:04:22.000 And as you can see, forensic entomology and forensic anthropology are part of that also. 00:04:22.000 --> 00:04:30.000 So I am a facet, a very small facet, of this large holistic view of death investigation. 00:04:30.000 --> 00:04:37.000 This is how Dr. Weitzel and I are portrayed in the media [laughter] as forensic anthropologists. 00:04:37.000 --> 00:04:44.000 I don't know about you, Misty, but I have no FBI eye candy to go on at my office. 00:04:44.000 --> 00:04:51.000 And again, I don't think there's any such thing as a backlit exam table, but it's a lovely idea. 00:04:51.000 --> 00:04:57.000 This is obviously fiction. What I deal with is facts, 00:05:01.000 --> 00:05:07.000 and the fact remains that we have to bring a little bit of levity to our jobs 00:05:07.000 --> 00:05:15.000 and we have to have a little bit of humor that's attached to the things that we do because what we can see can be very grave and can be very horrific. 00:05:15.000 --> 00:05:21.000 And we are obviously looking at people on the worst days of their lives because they're not coming back to us. 00:05:21.000 --> 00:05:27.000 They're not going home. So again, we do have things that we like to laugh and joke about. 00:05:27.000 --> 00:05:37.000 Again, here's what the media will portray our jobs as but the fact really is nothing is clean and nothing is straightforward. 00:05:37.000 --> 00:05:40.000 Again, the cases that I work are not pretty. 00:05:40.000 --> 00:05:51.000 They can be very, very disturbing and so we do the best that we can to visualize the characteristics that we can in order to do the best job. 00:05:51.000 --> 00:05:57.000 So forensic anthropology specifically answers very specific questions for our pathologists. 00:05:57.000 --> 00:05:64.000 Again I'm a participant in that analysis. 'Is it bone?' is really the first question that we need to ask. 00:06:04.000 --> 00:06:08.000 I've had PVC pipe submitted to the laboratory as long bones. 00:06:08.000 --> 00:06:13.000 I've had those little white landscape rocks submitted. 00:06:13.000 --> 00:06:16.000 You know, it's gotta be some sort of a wrist bone or an ankle bone. 00:06:16.000 --> 00:06:20.000 And really when a rock hits a counter, you can tell just about like that [snaps fingers]. 00:06:20.000 --> 00:06:22.000 It's like, 'No, I think that's stone. 00:06:22.000 --> 00:06:27.000 But a lot of different things can look like bone, and it certainly isn't up to me. 00:06:27.000 --> 00:06:36.000 As a concerned citizen would come to my establishment or my laboratory and say, 'I think I found Kyron Horman. 00:06:36.000 --> 00:06:42.000 And, you know, gather these bones up lovingly out of the woods and brought them to my establishment. 00:06:42.000 --> 00:06:46.000 To me that seems like an opportunity to educate the public at that point. 00:06:46.000 --> 00:06:52.000 So once we determine it is human bone, we do certain things. Is it male or is it female? 00:06:52.000 --> 00:06:60.000 That obviously is gonna be a great question to answer because it wipes out or excludes 50% of the population that I need to look at. 00:07:00.000 --> 00:07:04.000 How tall was this person? How old were they at the time of their death? 00:07:04.000 --> 00:07:10.000 What happened to them in life that could potentially allow me to identify this individual? 00:07:10.000 --> 00:07:13.000 Is there trauma? Is there pathology? 00:07:13.000 --> 00:07:22.000 That, again, is going to be individualizing to this particular person where I can get a name and a date of birth and allow some closure for a family. 00:07:22.000 --> 00:07:29.000 What has happened? Why are they out there? Why are they in the woods? Why have they been found in this actual state? 00:07:29.000 --> 00:07:36.000 So I look at trauma. I look at perimortem or at the time of death trauma, if it exists there, if applicable. 00:07:36.000 --> 00:07:43.000 And also one of the main questions that our investigators would like answered is, how long has this person been out there? 00:07:43.000 --> 00:07:48.000 How long has this decompositional process been in place? 00:07:48.000 --> 00:07:54.000 So we can place a timeline in regards to when this person was last seen alive. 00:07:55.000 --> 00:07:59.000 So human versus nonhuman skeletal elements. 00:07:59.000 --> 00:07:63.000 If you're good at human anatomy you pretty much know nonhuman anatomy. 00:08:03.000 --> 00:08:16.000 So, you know, the quadruped, the lovely quadruped obviously walks on four legs and so their skeletal anatomy, their morphology is gonna be quite different than the pesky biped. 00:08:16.000 --> 00:08:26.000 And so we've got, you know, some real fundamental differences in the way we stand and we move and our locomotion and our muscle attachments 00:08:26.000 --> 00:08:31.000 and the way bipeds do things as opposed to quadrupeds do things. 00:08:31.000 --> 00:08:36.000 that will give us a decent idea of what's human and what's not. 00:08:36.000 --> 00:08:42.000 This is obviously a human skull. You can recognize it right off the bat. Anyone in the room could recognize it, and this is certainly not. 00:08:42.000 --> 00:08:49.000 So we see certain features of a nonhuman skull like this and it seems straightforward and pretty obvious, 00:08:49.000 --> 00:08:54.000 but we look at things like where the eye sockets are placed and where they're facing. 00:08:54.000 --> 00:08:62.000 You'll see a lot of mammals, nonhuman mammals that have eyes that are facing off to the sides and that's to get a better peripheral vision of what's around them 00:09:02.000 --> 00:09:08.000 because there are animals out there that have predators that are after them. 00:09:08.000 --> 00:09:15.000 You see this, what we would consider a prognathism, or this long midfacial projection in something like a goat. 00:09:15.000 --> 00:09:20.000 And that certainly doesn't exist in humans for the most part. 00:09:20.000 --> 00:09:24.000 So we see things like snouts and eye placement. 00:09:24.000 --> 00:09:30.000 Obviously we also see the fact that in this goat, the spinal column is gonna go out along the back of it, 00:09:30.000 --> 00:09:35.000 so where the spinal column meets the brain stem is going to be in a different location than where it meets ours. 00:09:35.000 --> 00:09:44.000 Our head sits right up on top of our bodies, so our foramen magnum, or the large hole that your spinal cord goes up through and meets your brain stem, 00:09:44.000 --> 00:09:49.000 is right underneath basically your teeth and your jaw and your ears. Right underneath. 00:09:49.000 --> 00:09:52.000 This is going to be off to the back. 00:09:52.000 --> 00:09:55.000 Makes perfect sense, doesn't it, when you think about it. 00:09:55.000 --> 00:09:62.000 But then we can have challenging cases like this that look very similar to our human counterpart, 00:10:02.000 --> 00:10:17.000 but this would be a higher primate or a monkey that again has similar features to human but is certainly, definitely not in the bipedal category that we would associate as human. 00:10:17.000 --> 00:10:24.000 In addition to that I look at certain features on the postcranial, or below the cranium. 00:10:24.000 --> 00:10:27.000 There are features of the vertebrae that we can see. 00:10:27.000 --> 00:10:32.000 We've got long projections in animal bones in the back of the vertebrae. 00:10:32.000 --> 00:10:40.000 What's circled here is the spinous process and that is, if you bend over and you can feel the bony part of your spinal bone, 00:10:40.000 --> 00:10:44.000 that's actually the projection that you're feeling. 00:10:44.000 --> 00:10:50.000 Nonhuman skeletal elements will have a very, very long, long, skinny spinous process. 00:10:50.000 --> 00:10:53.000 And in contrast to the human, you can see quite different. 00:10:53.000 --> 00:10:61.000 In addition to that, these quadrupeds, these animals, these nonhumans have to have a very, very solid vertebral structure 00:11:01.000 --> 00:11:07.000 in order to hold their thorax in a gravitational position underneath them. 00:11:07.000 --> 00:11:15.000 So you'll see bigger muscle attachments, large, chunky hooked projections in nonhuman skeletal elements. 00:11:15.000 --> 00:11:24.000 We again stand upright. We are definitely more dainty or more gracile in the way our skeletal structure is aligned. 00:11:24.000 --> 00:11:30.000 So you can see here those large hooked projections on that vertebral column. 00:11:30.000 --> 00:11:39.000 We're all mammals, though, so the morphology of the bones that are in you and the bones that are in a quadruped, a mammal, is the same. 00:11:39.000 --> 00:11:42.000 So the morphology, the physical characteristics are the same. This is an ulna. 00:11:42.000 --> 00:11:48.000 Human being on your left. And two nonhuman ulnae being on your middle and on the right. 00:11:48.000 --> 00:11:55.000 So you can see that kind of half-moon indentation. That exists in all mammalian ulna. 00:11:55.000 --> 00:11:64.000 But the scale is different. Obviously this is a cow that is in comparing and contrasting to our human ulna. 00:12:04.000 --> 00:12:09.000 But again that feature still exists in that mammalian ulna. So we see the same things. 00:12:09.000 --> 00:12:16.000 So we're gonna see these types of things, but the scale is different. 00:12:16.000 --> 00:12:18.000 In addition, this is how our ribcage is set up. 00:12:18.000 --> 00:12:26.000 You see this upright ribcage with these very, very curved ribs coming around our thorax and into our torso. 00:12:26.000 --> 00:12:36.000 And they connect up here in our sternum in a cartilaginous way, and they connect back to our vertebrae with our two little transverse processes. 00:12:36.000 --> 00:12:41.000 In contrast to this here's our quadruped who has that thorax that's hanging down 00:12:41.000 --> 00:12:48.000 and has that gravitational pull of these large organs and all of this connective tissue that hangs down. 00:12:48.000 --> 00:12:57.000 So you can see them from a superior view is a much different aspect than what a biped would be. 00:12:57.000 --> 00:12:59.000 And obviously the ribs are gonna be shaped differently. 00:12:59.000 --> 00:12:64.000 So you don't see this lovely curve around that you see in a biped like a human. 00:13:04.000 --> 00:13:10.000 You see a very elongated, straight rib with a very, very tiny curve at the back. 00:13:10.000 --> 00:13:16.000 Hands and feet you would think would be pretty straightforward between humans and nonhumans 00:13:16.000 --> 00:13:22.000 but we have had some challenges with skeletal remains in the past that look like this. 00:13:22.000 --> 00:13:25.000 this is a case from a couple years ago. 00:13:25.000 --> 00:13:31.000 These were two apparent human hands that were found in a recycle bin in Central Oregon 00:13:31.000 --> 00:13:35.000 and you can see that they certainly do have features of a human hand. 00:13:35.000 --> 00:13:41.000 But when you turn them over they have these very large chunky projections as muscle attachments 00:13:41.000 --> 00:13:44.000 on the palmar side, the palm side, of the hand. 00:13:44.000 --> 00:13:48.000 This is extremely indicative of a bear paw. 00:13:48.000 --> 00:13:52.000 So we probably have a poaching issue that's going on here, 00:13:52.000 --> 00:13:59.000 people that will kill and skin a bear, will take all the claws off to sell. 00:13:59.000 --> 00:13:63.000 Then they'll take the fur off, and then they'll discard things like this. 00:14:03.000 --> 00:14:07.000 So this can be a challenge obviously for law enforcement who come upon a scene 00:14:07.000 --> 00:14:12.000 scene or any kind of a concerned citizen who's walking their dog and their dog brings this type of thing up to them. 00:14:12.000 --> 00:14:15.000 You can imagine how distressing that would be. 00:14:15.000 --> 00:14:18.000 So here's the comparative nature of the two. 00:14:18.000 --> 00:14:24.000 Obviously on your left is a human hand and on your right is the bear paw. 00:14:24.000 --> 00:14:27.000 There are certainly some similarities. 00:14:27.000 --> 00:14:31.000 So, we've determined that someone is human. 00:14:31.000 --> 00:14:36.000 Maybe we have human skeletal elements in front of us. Are the remains male or female? 00:14:36.000 --> 00:14:42.000 We look at physical features of sex, normally, in the cranium and in the pelvis. 00:14:42.000 --> 00:14:50.000 And we'll look at the frontal bone and the robusticity or how chunky that portion is in regards to males versus females. 00:14:50.000 --> 00:14:58.000 Interestingly enough, there's a non-quantitative way to look at the supraorbital ridge of a cranium, 00:14:58.000 --> 00:14:62.000 and you can run your fingers along the very top part of that supraorbital ridge. 00:15:02.000 --> 00:15:09.000 If it's very sharp and very dainty or thin, that would indicate a female individual. 00:15:09.000 --> 00:15:16.000 If it's very rounded and again seems very robust, that's a male individual. And also we look at chin shape. 00:15:16.000 --> 00:15:21.000 A lateral view of males versus females is something that we like to always do as well. 00:15:21.000 --> 00:15:29.000 Again, males have bigger muscle attachments. In every population of the world, men are larger than women. It just is a fact. 00:15:29.000 --> 00:15:37.000 So we will look at these types of muscle attachments, and even if a skull is small it may have big chunky muscle attachments 00:15:37.000 --> 00:15:46.000 and large, large articular surfaces and that would indicate to us, even though it appears diminutive that it could potentially be a male. 00:15:46.000 --> 00:15:50.000 And sometimes it's really easy. [laughter] 00:15:50.000 --> 00:15:59.000 In our pelvis we have other features based on the fact that women are the ones that are tasked with bearing children and men are not. 00:15:59.000 --> 00:15:66.000 So fundamentally our pelves are shaped and configured in a much different way. 00:16:06.000 --> 00:16:18.000 So we look at a subpubic angle in the females to be very wide, obtuse, greater than 90 degrees angle when you have both of those pelvic bones that are articulated together. 00:16:18.000 --> 00:16:26.000 In addition to that, the greater sciatic notch that you see in the arrow there is usually very wide and almost splayed open. 00:16:26.000 --> 00:16:28.000 So those are indicative of female traits. 00:16:28.000 --> 00:16:37.000 In contrast, males will have a very small or very narrow, acute subpubic angle when those two pelvic bones are articulated in the front. 00:16:37.000 --> 00:16:40.000 And if you know your anatomy we're looking at the very front of the pelvis here. 00:16:40.000 --> 00:16:43.000 So that's an acute angle there. 00:16:43.000 --> 00:16:51.000 Also their greater sciatic notch is very narrow and almost stubby, if you will. 00:16:51.000 --> 00:16:58.000 So you can see just a little bit of surface area between those two points of the greater sciatic notch. 00:16:58.000 --> 00:16:63.000 Just a few of the features that we look for for human'" I'm sorry, males versus females. 00:17:03.000 --> 00:17:12.000 How old was this person when we die? We have a lot of different techniques that we can use, visually and quantitatively, that we can determine how old someone was. 00:17:12.000 --> 00:17:18.000 This is, unfortunately, a juvenile from South Africa. This was one of my cases in South Africa. 00:17:18.000 --> 00:17:26.000 You know, you can see that a little kid's head is literally full of teeth during a certain period of their lives. 00:17:26.000 --> 00:17:34.000 So unfortunately these are two juveniles that we had in our skeletal collection but you can see the progression of dental eruption or dentition 00:17:34.000 --> 00:17:38.000 that is coming through that is going to replace their deciduous teeth. 00:17:38.000 --> 00:17:48.000 So we really go by kind of a standard of eruption patterns between male children and female children. They're actually different. 00:17:48.000 --> 00:17:56.000 Females' teeth erupt a little sooner than males', so we can see that there's an age that each of these adult teeth come in. 00:17:56.000 --> 00:17:63.000 So if we do have a juvenile we can use this type of a structure in order to narrow down an age estimate. 00:18:03.000 --> 00:18:12.000 In addition to that, as we grow, and we grow into puberty, there are certain things that can be visualized when you reach your, 00:18:12.000 --> 00:18:15.000 basically your secondary sexual characteristics, when you reach puberty. 00:18:15.000 --> 00:18:23.000 So when you're younger you have these fusion points. If you remember how your legs ached when you were a kid and they called them 'growing pains, 00:18:23.000 --> 00:18:26.000 this was the same kind of thing and this is what was happening. 00:18:26.000 --> 00:18:33.000 You have your long bones that are lengthening and you have these epiphyseal caps or plates, you might have heard of that, 00:18:33.000 --> 00:18:36.000 that are hanging out of both of the ends of your long bones. 00:18:36.000 --> 00:18:42.000 Those stay detached from your long bones until you reach puberty. 00:18:42.000 --> 00:18:50.000 Once you reach puberty they ossify, they become solidified against that shaft of the long bone, and then they go away. 00:18:50.000 --> 00:18:55.000 So if we can see that line we know that we've got a younger person. 00:18:55.000 --> 00:18:61.000 If that line is completely obliterated and it's fused onto the cap of the long bone, then we know we have an adult. 00:19:01.000 --> 00:19:03.000 And I'll give you a good idea of that. 00:19:03.000 --> 00:19:08.000 So again, here's what an adult femoral head would look like. 00:19:08.000 --> 00:19:15.000 You don't have any visualization of a line between that cap and the shaft and that line can become obliterated. 00:19:15.000 --> 00:19:21.000 And here's a good example. What you have on your left is a 6-year-old, and this is the humerus, this is the upper arm bone. 00:19:21.000 --> 00:19:23.000 So you can see the cap is completely off. 00:19:23.000 --> 00:19:29.000 Obviously it's skeletal, it's not connected with cartilage, but this is what a 6-year-old humerus would look like. 00:19:29.000 --> 00:19:32.000 Contrast, we have a 19-year-old in the middle. 00:19:32.000 --> 00:19:36.000 Can you all see that epiphyseal line? That's very, very visible. 00:19:36.000 --> 00:19:42.000 That's starting to fuse that humeral head onto the shaft of the humerus. 00:19:42.000 --> 00:19:45.000 But it is still visible so we know that this is a younger person. 00:19:45.000 --> 00:19:52.000 And then finally we've got our 24-year-old adult on the right side. The epiphyseal plate is gone. 00:19:52.000 --> 00:19:56.000 The fusion pattern is obliterated. This is what full adulthood looks like. 00:19:56.000 --> 00:19:62.000 This is the exact same example with the exact same individuals, only with the femur. 00:20:02.000 --> 00:20:06.000 So our 6-year-old, our 19-year-old, and our 24-year-old. 00:20:06.000 --> 00:20:12.000 Quickly talking about stature, every single long bone in your body is correlated to your stature. 00:20:12.000 --> 00:20:20.000 Some much better than others, but we have formula that we can quantitatively plug in. 00:20:20.000 --> 00:20:29.000 Say a length of a femur or the length of a humerus and anthropologists have determined a regression formula that will show a height estimation. 00:20:29.000 --> 00:20:32.000 It will give a range of heights based on these long bone measurements. 00:20:32.000 --> 00:20:35.000 Again, we're taking measurements now too. 00:20:35.000 --> 00:20:47.000 So in addition to those visible or those visual techniques that we used, like, say with the cranium and with the pelvis, we quantify these visual techniques or these visual characteristics. 00:20:47.000 --> 00:20:56.000 So we're looking at proportions and we're looking at the relative abundance of one thing as opposed to the lack or the absence of another. 00:20:56.000 --> 00:20:63.000 So we assign these features a weighted value and we determine the probability that this person is a certain way, 00:21:03.000 --> 00:21:10.000 say male or female, or African-American versus Caucasian, based on these formula that we can plug these measurements into. 00:21:10.000 --> 00:21:16.000 And just for an example, we do 29 different cranial landmarks that we use 00:21:16.000 --> 00:21:26.000 to determine or quantify potentially the biological affiliation, or what's commonly known as race, of an individual through their cranial measurements. 00:21:26.000 --> 00:21:31.000 In addition to that, what happened to this person before they were dead? 00:21:31.000 --> 00:21:42.000 We can find certain things in our skeletal system, like prosthetics that might show us what a person was like or what happened to them before they died. 00:21:42.000 --> 00:21:49.000 This would indicate that there is a doctor somewhere and a medical record to find, so that we can match these characteristics up. 00:21:49.000 --> 00:21:54.000 Remember, I'm working at a point where I'm not quite sure who this person is. 00:21:54.000 --> 00:21:60.000 Unless there was a wallet in their degraded jean pocket, we don't have a name for this person yet. 00:22:00.000 --> 00:22:04.000 So these are the types of things that can be very characteristic of one individual. 00:22:04.000 --> 00:22:11.000 Five screws in the femoral head of that individual will be very individualistic to that person. 00:22:11.000 --> 00:22:16.000 Death investigation in regard to anthropology has certain goals of course, 00:22:16.000 --> 00:22:20.000 identification being the first, perimortem trauma certainly being the second. 00:22:20.000 --> 00:22:27.000 So we try and determine or help participate in the cause and manner of death. 00:22:27.000 --> 00:22:29.000 So we look at gunshot trauma. 00:22:29.000 --> 00:22:34.000 This is a hole in your skull that is actually a natural occurrence. It's called the incisive foramen. 00:22:34.000 --> 00:22:40.000 This is a hole in the skull that is not natural. This was gunshot wound trauma. That was actually a suicide. 00:22:40.000 --> 00:22:45.000 Sharp force trauma is something that we also look at in regard to skeletal remains and what we can find. 00:22:45.000 --> 00:22:53.000 This is a hatchet homicide that I worked a couple years ago, and you can see the linear aspect of that hatchet mark. 00:22:53.000 --> 00:22:59.000 In addition to that you see the one spur of bone that's laying aside of the skull. That is your mastoid process. 00:22:59.000 --> 00:22:66.000 It's actually the right one, so I'm pointing to the wrong one. That was also severed in this individual during life. 00:23:06.000 --> 00:23:08.000 So there's another picture of that hatchet wound. 00:23:08.000 --> 00:23:14.000 In addition, here's two sharp force trauma right there in the sternum. 00:23:14.000 --> 00:23:19.000 So you see that trauma and that trauma, they're very, very distinct trauma. 00:23:19.000 --> 00:23:25.000 This is obviously not anything that would happen in life or naturally, so we can describe that trauma. 00:23:25.000 --> 00:23:32.000 Postmortem trauma is something that we come upon all the time, but we have to categorize it because we have to describe every bone that we see. 00:23:32.000 --> 00:23:38.000 So you have scraping tooth marks by rodents, you have characteristic puncture marks by carnivores. 00:23:38.000 --> 00:23:47.000 You can see jagged and disorganized defects or fracture patterns in postmortem types of trauma. 00:23:47.000 --> 00:23:54.000 And this is what causes a lot of the trauma that we see. Carnivores, dogs, coyotes, you name it. 00:23:54.000 --> 00:23:58.000 In addition to that, we can have destruction by heat and fire. 00:23:58.000 --> 00:23:62.000 These are very challenging cases that we have where we have very, very small pieces. 00:24:02.000 --> 00:24:14.000 This was a homicide case from 2010 and you can see how tiny those pieces of bone are, and they are unrecognizable in a pile in, say, a colander. 00:24:14.000 --> 00:24:21.000 But when you tease them out and you try and determine exactly morphologically where they come from you can see that those are vertebral fragments. 00:24:21.000 --> 00:24:29.000 This is actually part of the right cheekbone, or the zygoma, and this was a portion of the hipbone of this individual. 00:24:29.000 --> 00:24:36.000 So, again, we want to put a name to the remains that we have and we want to determine, if we can, how this person died. 00:24:36.000 --> 00:24:40.000 So, this is a case I worked a couple years ago. 00:24:40.000 --> 00:24:47.000 This is an actively decomposing man, but he had very, very distinct individualizing characteristics. 00:24:47.000 --> 00:24:56.000 This is his ulna, that is your lower arm bone, and he had a prosthetic in it, which was very characteristic with the wires and the two different colors. 00:24:56.000 --> 00:24:64.000 Interestingly enough, orthopedists have to put Rs and Ls on some of their prosthetic to get the side right. I thought that was cute. 00:25:04.000 --> 00:25:08.000 This man also had what appeared to be a gunshot wound. 00:25:08.000 --> 00:25:16.000 So you see this radio-opaque, almost kind of snowfall across his radiographer, his x-ray, 00:25:16.000 --> 00:25:23.000 ending in a very, very distinct, very dense radio-opaque, appears to be a lead bullet. Well, in fact, it was. 00:25:23.000 --> 00:25:31.000 And this is it. Unfortunately, or fortunately, whichever way you want to look at it, there was bone growing over this bullet, so this person survived this gunshot wound. 00:25:31.000 --> 00:25:35.000 so this person survived this gunshot wound. 00:25:35.000 --> 00:25:42.000 His body was compensating for the fact that it had a foreign object in it and it was trying to incorporate it within his anatomy. 00:25:42.000 --> 00:25:48.000 So this is a very distinct feature of someone who has survived a gunshot wound. 00:25:48.000 --> 00:25:53.000 It was actually a failed suicide attempt from 1983. And so there you can see that bullet yet again. 00:25:53.000 --> 00:25:56.000 How we identified this man? 00:25:56.000 --> 00:25:63.000 Remember that I am one of a very, very small facet of forensic investigation, or death investigation. 00:26:03.000 --> 00:26:10.000 Our death investor took the keys that were in his pocket and went back to the neighborhood where he was found'" 00:26:10.000 --> 00:26:13.000 he was found in North Portland, kind of over by the railroad tracks'" 00:26:13.000 --> 00:26:20.000 and started using the keys to the wall of mailboxes in this lower-income apartment complex. 00:26:20.000 --> 00:26:24.000 One fit, he opened it, we got a name off of the mail. 00:26:24.000 --> 00:26:34.000 So, I had no part in identifying this person, although he had so many identifying features. It was really a compelling case. 00:26:34.000 --> 00:26:40.000 So you can see the resources that we used in that specific case. We tried to fingerprint him. He was too decomposed. 00:26:40.000 --> 00:26:46.000 We had some trace analyst looks at his hair to determine perhaps what race he was. He ended up being Caucasian. 00:26:46.000 --> 00:26:49.000 Our death investigator was the star of the show. 00:26:49.000 --> 00:26:56.000 Our entomologist looked at the bugs that were on the remains to determine exactly how long he had been out there. 00:26:56.000 --> 00:26:60.000 A lot of different people were involved in that. 00:27:00.000 --> 00:27:07.000 Again, ID. Identification is our first goal and again, perimortem trauma. What is the possible cause and manner of death? 00:27:07.000 --> 00:27:13.000 Sometimes we can't figure out this first question. Identification. So we need help. 00:27:13.000 --> 00:27:19.000 Sometimes we can see gunshot wounds and we can see trauma, but we need help identifying people. 00:27:19.000 --> 00:27:25.000 In 2013 as of this moment, we have 91 unidentified decedents that I am in charge of. 00:27:25.000 --> 00:27:30.000 They do not have names. Some of them are homicides. Some of them are suicides. 00:27:30.000 --> 00:27:34.000 Some of them are simply, probably death by exposure out in the woods. 00:27:34.000 --> 00:27:39.000 But skeletal and decomposed remains that don't have a name, at this moment there's 91 in Oregon. 00:27:39.000 --> 00:27:44.000 Missing persons in Oregon, there's almost 1,600. 00:27:44.000 --> 00:27:50.000 Some of these people are my 91 and I need a way to match them up. 00:27:50.000 --> 00:27:56.000 The way to match them up is called NAMUS, and that's what this slide background is for. 00:27:56.000 --> 00:27:64.000 It's the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System and it's been a database that has really been revolutionary for us in the last five or six years. 00:28:04.000 --> 00:28:08.000 It was online as a beta program in 2005. 00:28:08.000 --> 00:28:11.000 We went online with it in Oregon in 2007. 00:28:11.000 --> 00:28:16.000 We enter cases into it and they attempt to match each other up. 00:28:16.000 --> 00:28:19.000 So we have cross-matching between two databases. 00:28:19.000 --> 00:28:23.000 One is a missing persons database, which law enforcement inputs profiles into. 00:28:23.000 --> 00:28:29.000 The second is an unidentified decedent database, which I input my unidentified people into. 00:28:29.000 --> 00:28:33.000 It's nationwide, it's free to the public. 00:28:33.000 --> 00:28:41.000 Anyone can go on it, and if you have a missing loved one, you can input their information into this national website and it will get uploaded nationally. 00:28:41.000 --> 00:28:47.000 People like me, a medical examiner or a forensic anthropologist, can look at your loved one and say, 00:28:54.000 --> 00:28:57.000 We would like to identify these people, obviously. 00:28:57.000 --> 00:28:68.000 In addition to that, we do free DNA testing through the University of North Texas, so everyone has a DNA profile that's attached to their actual profile. 00:29:08.000 --> 00:29:10.000 We enter missing people into NAMUS all the time. 00:29:10.000 --> 00:29:15.000 This is David Mekvoid. He's been missing since 2010. He's still missing. 00:29:15.000 --> 00:29:21.000 But our state mandates missing people are put into a searchable database, 00:29:21.000 --> 00:29:30.000 and that DNA profiles are developed on these people, usually through their families, through their biological offspring, or through their mothers and their fathers. 00:29:30.000 --> 00:29:36.000 So if we don't have something from David Mekvoid, like his toothbrush or his razor, we'll go to his parents and say, 00:29:42.000 --> 00:29:52.000 So mother and father can be combined and have both of their DNA profiles in the system searching against unidentified remains. 00:29:52.000 --> 00:29:60.000 Unidentified people that I put into this system have to have a certain amount of information to upload this profile. 00:30:00.000 --> 00:30:07.000 So time and date of the recovery, the circumstances, obviously where they were found, and then again my biological profile plays a huge role. 00:30:07.000 --> 00:30:14.000 How tall were they? Is it a man? Is it a woman? Is it a Caucasian? Is it an African-American? Where was the body? 00:30:14.000 --> 00:30:18.000 Is there physical or medical characteristics like a prosthetic, dental remains? 00:30:18.000 --> 00:30:25.000 Anything that I find with that body, like clothing or jewelry, that is going to be an identifying factor for these people. 00:30:25.000 --> 00:30:31.000 So here's some very, very specific jewelry from an unidentified decedent that we still have in our morgue. 00:30:31.000 --> 00:30:34.000 You can tell that these people are just waiting to be identified. 00:30:34.000 --> 00:30:40.000 This is a very specific type of accoutrement, if you will, that accompanies these bodies. 00:30:40.000 --> 00:30:44.000 Facial re-approximations can be a great tool, too. 00:30:44.000 --> 00:30:53.000 I have a wonderful forensic artist that I work with, and she will take a fresh unidentified person like this individual and do a 2D re-approximation on them. 00:30:53.000 --> 00:30:58.000 This was an amazing 2-D re-approximation on a skull that we did just recently. 00:30:58.000 --> 00:30:64.000 This case is solved and adjudicated so I can show it to you, but on the left was the re-approximation that she did. 00:31:04.000 --> 00:31:12.000 She never saw this picture of this actual missing person, but this ended up being the same person. I think it's quite uncanny, isn't it? 00:31:12.000 --> 00:31:14.000 That she got it right with the part and everything. 00:31:14.000 --> 00:31:22.000 So this was an unidentified remains case from the fall of 2012 that ended up being identified as Mayra Cruz. 00:31:22.000 --> 00:31:24.000 Other abilities of our forensic artists. 00:31:24.000 --> 00:31:35.000 Obviously something as inappropriate as decomposing tissue with a tattoo is not appropriate to put onto our NAMUS website for this person. 00:31:35.000 --> 00:31:37.000 But a drawing of it certainly is. 00:31:37.000 --> 00:31:40.000 So we can use the artist in a bunch of different ways. 00:31:40.000 --> 00:31:45.000 Dental information most definitely goes all into this website as well. 00:31:45.000 --> 00:31:51.000 Very specific or interesting dental characteristics can go on there also. 00:31:51.000 --> 00:31:57.000 Ultimately, we always submit a sample of our unidentified remains to the University of North Texas. 00:31:57.000 --> 00:31:63.000 That is the laboratory, the national laboratory that is federally funded that does our DNA analysis for free. 00:32:03.000 --> 00:32:13.000 So we can submit bone, tissue, blood, or hair to this laboratory and they will attach a DNA profile to these profiles. 00:32:13.000 --> 00:32:18.000 So we link these missing persons and unidentified decedents in a lot of different ways. 00:32:18.000 --> 00:32:24.000 We have our unidentified person's DNA profile and there's really these large portions of information, 00:32:24.000 --> 00:32:28.000 those family reference standards that might come from a missing person's family. 00:32:28.000 --> 00:32:37.000 We have convicted offender profiles, where someone who's incarcerated gives a DNA swab at the time of their incarceration. 00:32:37.000 --> 00:32:45.000 Those DNA profiles go into the same system and our unidentified person gets compared against those profiles as well. 00:32:45.000 --> 00:32:51.000 We have direct reference samples, toothbrushes from our missing people that can certainly match up also. 00:32:51.000 --> 00:32:59.000 Again the database was beta-tested'"actually it was 2005, not 2006'"we went up in 2007 and we've identified now 15. 00:32:59.000 --> 00:32:64.000 This slide has actually changed since two weeks ago. 00:33:06.000 --> 00:33:12.000 What can you do? This is my pitch. Find the website and cruise it. 00:33:12.000 --> 00:33:16.000 Go through it. Look at the missing people that are there throughout the nation. 00:33:16.000 --> 00:33:19.000 There's hundreds of thousands of them that are up there now. 00:33:19.000 --> 00:33:21.000 Talk to people that you know. 00:33:21.000 --> 00:33:28.000 It's interesting to me how many people know a family that has a missing daughter or a missing son or a missing uncle. 00:33:28.000 --> 00:33:32.000 Talk to them about this website. This is where all the information is going now. 00:33:32.000 --> 00:33:34.000 It's been fragmented in the past. 00:33:34.000 --> 00:33:44.000 This is the nationwide consolidated consortium of information between missing and unidentified people, and it'll only work if we populate it. 00:33:44.000 --> 00:33:47.000 Fiction is certainly lovely on TV. 00:33:47.000 --> 00:33:55.000 I never play poker over the remains, but we do, again, have some levity in our laboratory. 00:33:55.000 --> 00:33:61.000 This is my forensic biology unit dressed up as Reno 911!, and Office Dangle there being down at the bottom. 00:34:01.000 --> 00:34:13.000 We can laugh about things, but my goal really, really is to get these people identified and to use skeletal anatomy and skeletal biology to that end. 00:34:13.000 --> 00:34:19.000 So with that, I thank Western Oregon University for having me and I think we'll open it up to questions. 00:34:21.000 --> 00:34:29.000 Vance: It's the same forensic analysis that every crime lab in the nation does that's really based on FBI standards. 00:34:29.000 --> 00:34:36.000 So they do the exact same DNA analysis, both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA analysis, on all of our skeletal remains. 00:34:36.000 --> 00:34:40.000 So it's the exact same, so they can match up easily. 00:34:40.000 --> 00:34:47.000 Years. Obviously with fresh bodies, if we have a blood standard, that is a great DNA standard for us. 00:34:47.000 --> 00:34:58.000 With skeletal remains or decomposing remains, what I will do is attempt to look at, try to find some fresh tissue with a decomposing person. 00:34:58.000 --> 00:34:63.000 So we're talking pink or red muscular tissue. 00:35:03.000 --> 00:35:12.000 If they're completely skeletonized, if I have an intact bone, one that hasn't been chewed on by animals and bacteria getting up through there, 00:35:12.000 --> 00:35:16.000 an intact bone is just fine for the University of North Texas. 00:35:16.000 --> 00:35:24.000 They do an extraction process that is very, very specific for that type of material and they can extract both the nuclear and mitochondrial. 00:35:24.000 --> 00:35:29.000 You know, I don't know. I guess we have. Misty is nodding yes. 00:35:29.000 --> 00:35:35.000 I don't keep up on anything that's over 30 years old. [laughs] 00:35:35.000 --> 00:35:41.000 It's a little hard for me to keep up on the archaeological aspects of it, too, but I'm sure they've probably done mito on it. 00:35:41.000 --> 00:35:49.000 Juveniles are a bit of a different issue, I think, because they'll go missing and then they'll show up again several different times. 00:35:49.000 --> 00:35:63.000 Normally, adults ' I would say probably 30% is criminal activity, but the vast majority is suicide or exposure. 00:36:03.000 --> 00:36:08.000 You know, and that may be in conjunction with criminal activity. 00:36:08.000 --> 00:36:15.000 We have a lot of cases where we will'" and the stat with the 91 people that are unidentified, 00:36:15.000 --> 00:36:25.000 we've had vast numbers of unidentified people that we have subsequently identified, and so we've got the luxury of getting their stories at the very end of the day. 00:36:25.000 --> 00:36:32.000 And so we see a lot of people that have wandered in the woods kind of in a drug-induced stupor. 00:36:32.000 --> 00:36:40.000 We've seen quite a few people in a criminal act who will flee into the woods and never been seen again. 00:36:40.000 --> 00:36:44.000 That happens more often than you'd think. 00:36:44.000 --> 00:36:56.000 Yeah. You know, we do see suicides quite often, but just about 30% are criminal activity. Probably at least 70% are 'other'. 00:36:56.000 --> 00:36:64.000 Specifically me, I will look at between 12 and 16 human skeletal cases a year. 00:37:04.000 --> 00:37:11.000 So about one a month, depending on the decompositional rate that they have progressed through. 00:37:11.000 --> 00:37:17.000 If it's completely skeletonized, then I can immediately go to my biological profile analyses. 00:37:17.000 --> 00:37:21.000 I can look at every bone. I can determine male versus female. 00:37:21.000 --> 00:37:28.000 I can look at stature immediately, based on the fact that everything is there, everything is complete, and everything is skeletonized. 00:37:28.000 --> 00:37:33.000 With decomposed remains, much more complicated process because I have to excise tissue at that point. 00:37:33.000 --> 00:37:42.000 I have to remove soft tissue in order to view hard tissue. That is a process that can be quite challenging. 00:37:42.000 --> 00:37:52.000 So with just a skeletal remains case, I can get a biological profile created and put into the website within about a week or two. 00:37:52.000 --> 00:37:57.000 The DNA sample goes immediately down to the University of North Texas and their turnaround time is quite amazing. 00:37:57.000 --> 00:37:63.000 They can get a DNA sample completed in about 8 weeks now, between 8 and 10 weeks. 00:38:03.000 --> 00:38:13.000 So everything's poised for that person to be ID'd at that point, so about 8 to 10 weeks after we find them, ultimately with the DNA profile as well. 00:38:13.000 --> 00:38:21.000 Again, it's a combination of things. I think luck plays a little bit of a role in it. 00:38:21.000 --> 00:38:30.000 I think the diligence of our public certainly plays a role in it, based on the fact that there's not a lot of people that know about that website, 00:38:30.000 --> 00:38:40.000 and there's not a lot of people, except for law enforcement, who are actively attempting to match these people up to each other. 00:38:40.000 --> 00:38:46.000 In addition to that, you know, we assume that if somebody's missing, somebody's looking for them. 00:38:46.000 --> 00:38:52.000 And that is probably not the best assumption, because there's a lot of people that go missing 00:38:52.000 --> 00:38:60.000 and sometimes it's like, you know, 'Cousin Henry has always been a wanderer and he's probably just in Utah. He's always liked Utah in the summer, 00:39:00.000 --> 00:39:04.000 so we'll just assume he might show up for Thanksgiving, he might not. 00:39:04.000 --> 00:39:15.000 And a lot of people don't think or don't admit that their loved one is missing. So a lot of different facets of the timeline, as you well can imagine. 00:39:15.000 --> 00:39:17.000 Curiosity. Science. 00:39:17.000 --> 00:39:22.000 I was pre-med for three years as an undergrad and realized that I wasn't gonna cut it with live people--- 00:39:26.000 --> 00:39:29.000 as 'clients,' let's put it that way. 00:39:29.000 --> 00:39:37.000 Just curiosity and the actual fascination of the puzzle pieces that are included in this. 00:39:37.000 --> 00:39:40.000 I never turned around. I never looked back.