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Identifying Remains: Lessons Learned from 9/11

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 256 Dated: 2007 Pages: 20-26
Date Published
January 2007
7 pages
Publication Series
This article summarizes the report of the Kinship and Data Analysis Panel (KADAP) on the lessons learned from efforts to identify the victims of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001.
The U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) assembled experts to advise and support New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner during the identification effort. This panel (KADAP) was composed of scientists from multiple government, military, and academic fields, as well as private DNA laboratories. Members of the private and public sectors provided testimony to KADAP as it developed its recommendations. KADAP's report assesses the magnitude of a DNA identification effort and the acquisition of the resources required. It also addresses the collection of personal-item reference samples and biological samples from the victims' families. Further, recommendations focus on the creation of laboratory policies and procedures for DNA extraction, typing, and interpretation, as well as the determination of the statistical thresholds that must be met for the identification of commingled, degraded, or fragmented remains. Recommendations also pertain to the management of the laboratory's work, including sample tracking and chain-of-custody requirements, data management technology, and quality assurance. In addition, guidance is provided for educating and informing victims' families, officials, the media, and the public. The report is based in the scientific consensus that DNA analysis is the gold standard for identifying human remains and may be the only available method when other methods, such as birthmarks, dental records, or fingerprints are not available. If sufficient DNA can be recovered, forensic DNA typing can identify biological samples, even when the human remains are fragmented and the DNA is degraded, as was the case with the World Trade Center victims. 4 notes

Date Published: January 1, 2007