Dental Identification - Case 2

History: Skeletonized remains were found scattered throughout a creek bed, covering a considerable area. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the remains had been soaked in bleach to de-flesh the skeleton before being relocated to the creek bed. After the remains had been collected, a dentist was asked to examine the skull and mandible. The victim was edentulous, so the dentist stated that there wasn’t much that could be done by way of dental comparison.

The skull was then sent to this author for a complete forensic examination. Radiographs were taken, revealing an impacted maxillary third molar (Case ID 2a).

Case ID 2a.
Photo of post-mortem radiograph showing impacted upper third molar.
Post-mortem radiograph showing impacted upper third molar.

The PM examination of the skull showed an interesting pattern associated with some of the alveolar sockets in the maxilla. Color and ultraviolet photographs were taken of the victim’s alveolar sockets which revealed the outline of the tool used to remove those teeth: a needle-nosed plier.

The impacted wisdom tooth was removed and used for a DNA source. A DNA match successfully confirmed the identity of the decedent. The victim’s dentist was contacted and AM dental records were obtained for additional confirmation. Comparing the outline of the root areas in the maxilla PM to the AM panorex image provided an additional confirmation of the identity. The defendant in the case was charged with homicide and mutilation of a corpse (PM extraction of the victim’s dentition).

Case ID 2b.
Color photo of the skull showing the alveolar sockets after post-mortem extraction.
Color photograph of the skull showing the alveolar sockets after post-mortem extraction.
Case ID 2c.
Macro photo showing outlines of breakage on the maxiallary alveolus from pliers.
Ultraviolet photograph of the maxillary alveolus showing the outline of the square beak of the needle-nosed pliers used for the extractions.