Odile Loreille is an ancient DNA expert who works at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory in Rockville, MD. She has worked on some of the coolest identification project on earth: the Unknown Child, the Hand in the Snow, the Romanov children, and Evrett Reuss. Her true mission is to identify the 869 unidentified casualities of the Korean War buried in the Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu. Towards this end, she is developing new protocols to extract DNA from embalmed remains, and to detecdt and analyze smaller and smaller amounts of more highly degraded DNA. She specializes in mitochondrial DNA analysis, since this is usually the type of DNA that survives as remains become increasingly degraded.

Unknown Child on the Titanic – Part IV (Conclusion)

By |2010-08-21T14:55:54-07:00August 21st, 2010|

When AFDIL attempted an identification through Y-DNA, I was asked by my colleague Dr. Odile Loreille to find a Y-DNA reference for Sidney Goodwin.  We were just finishing up the identification of The Hand in the Snow, so she knew I was available for a new project. Of course, my first step was to search Ancestry.com to [...]

Unknown Child on the Titanic – Part III

By |2010-08-19T01:05:26-07:00August 19th, 2010|

To understand what happened next, you have to know a little about mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).  Mitochondrial DNA is contained in small, football-shaped inclusions outside the nucleus of a cell. It's widely believed that mitochondria were once independent bacteria that invaded primitive cells millions of years ago.  Instead of being digested, these bacteria took [...]

Unknown Child on the Titanic – Part II

By |2010-08-17T18:48:48-07:00August 17th, 2010|

After eight and a half decades, there was little left of the child's body. Only a small piece of wrist bone and the crowns of three tiny baby teeth had survived the inclement weather and damp, slightly acidic soil. In the spring of 2002, when Parr and Ruffman determined that the child was not [...]

Unknown Child on the Titanic – Part I

By |2010-08-14T22:40:06-07:00August 14th, 2010|

On April 20-23 1912, on its mission from Halifax to salvage remains from the Titanic, the crew of the cable ship Mackay-Bennett pulled 306 bodies from the frigid waters of the north Atlantic. Only one of them, body No. 4, was that of a child. At the time, the best that forensic identification [...]

Maurice Conway

By |2010-08-11T23:03:49-07:00August 11th, 2010|

The best part of our projects is the good friendships we form with the people whose lives we  touch.  On our recent trip to Ireland, Andy and I visited with Maurice Conway and his family in Co. Limerick.  Maurice provided the DNA match that confirmed that the remains found in the wreck of Northwest Flight [...]

The Hand in the Snow

By |2010-08-08T17:22:01-07:00August 8th, 2010|

Our blog would not be complete without a mention of The Hand in the Snow.  This was our first big military identification case with the Armed Forces DNA ID Laboratory, performed with a dream team of top forensic scientists.  Our successful identification of the frozen arm and hand found in the Alaska glacier as [...]

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