Scientists work to identify bones of children found in Missoula - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Scientists work to identify bones of children found in Missoula shed

Posted: Dec 16, 2017 3:39 PM Updated:

Dedicated forensic scientists are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the children's bones that were found in September.

Despite their best efforts, they may not be able to find out who these children were.

Small pieces of jaw bones and multiple teeth were found in the box with rocks and other animal bones. The University of Montana Anthropology Department was able to determine that there were bones from three different people and the approximate ages of the individuals were between two and ten years old. 

Aldo Fusaro, Deputy Medical Examiner for the state of Montana, said that to determine the ages of the bones and the people they belonged to, they take measurements. The measurements, in turn, are put into a database that gives them an approximation for the age, race and sex of the bones. 

This information forms the biological profile of the individuals. Fusaro said that this process was made difficult because the bones they had to analyze were very small. 

The UM anthropology department determined that the bones were considered “modern” which according to the Fusaro means that they are under 99 years old. 

After the University of Montana anthropology department and the medical examiner finished their testing, there were still some questions left unanswered. 

"I think it would be really important to know if the cases are related to each other for example if they’re siblings," Fusaro said. "If these cases are not related, they may not be those Michigan cases." 

The evidence was sent to the University of North Texas for DNA extractions and testing. 

"The probability of them getting enough DNA out of these bones to do their work is low," Fusaro said. "It’s possible, but it’s low, so we submit it anyway and hope for the best. That’s all we can do." 

In addition to the tests performed at North Texas, Fusaro said they would likely be looking into dental records as well. 

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