This article presents research into using forensic genetic methods to connect discovered human remains to reported missing persons.
The identification of human remains belonging to missing persons is one of the main challenges for forensic genetics. Although other means of identification can be applied to missing person investigations, DNA is often extremely valuable to further support or refute potential associations. When reference DNA samples cannot be collected from personal items belonging to a missing person, a direct DNA identification cannot be carried out. However, identifications can be made indirectly using DNA from the missing person’s relatives. The ranking of likelihood ratio (LR) values, which measure the fit of a missing person for any given pedigree, is often the first step in selecting candidates in a DNA database. Although implementing DNA kinship matching in a national environment is feasible, many challenges need to be resolved before applying this method to an international configuration. In this study, the authors present an innovative and intuitive method to perform international DNA kinship matching and facilitate the comparison of DNA profiles when the ancestry is unknown or unsure and/or when different marker sets are used. This straightforward method, which is based on calculations performed with the DNA matching software BONAPARTE, Worldwide allele frequencies and tailored cutoff log10LR thresholds, allows for the classification of potential candidates according to the strength of the DNA evidence and the predicted proportion of adventitious matches. This is a powerful method for streamlining the decision-making process in missing person investigations and DVI processes, especially when there are low numbers of overlapping typed STRs. Intuitive interpretation tables and a decision tree will help strengthen international data comparison for the identification of reported missing individuals discovered outside their national borders. (Published Abstract Provided)
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