(Received 27 July 1988; accepted 15 August 1988)
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On 9 May 1987, a Soviet-made IL-62M Polish Airliner, LOT Flight 5055, crashed. exploded, and burned, killing the crew and 183 passengers. A forensic science team from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, comprised of 6 dental officers, 3 forensic pathologists, and 3 medical photographers, worked in concert with the Polish forensic science team. The small number of antemortem records and the extreme fragmentation of the remains presented a new scenario for computer use.
Typically, the Computer-Assisted Postmortem Identification (CAPMI) software is used to compare remains against an antemortem database. Results are listed by the number of tooth-to-tooth matches based on restorative or other characteristics or both. The Polish disaster confounded this approach to some degree, however, and suggested a reconsideration of the theory on which the sort is made, that is, that the cases with maximum number of matches to preexisting dental records would be the most likely identification (ID) match.
A hypothesis was constructed that, if searches were accomplished for fragments with a minimum number of mismatches, the correct matches would appear higher in the rank order. Six antemortem records (that had all dental information) were sorted against one hundred and twelve postmortem fragmented records. The resulting report was reordered so that records were listed by minimum number of mismatches. There was significant improvement in rank placement for all of the records. Thus it was accepted that in the situation of highly fragmented remains a different sorting based on the number of mismatches is indicated. Programming changes to make this option available have been implemented in the new version of CAPMI.
Major, U.S. Army Dental Corps, and research officer, U.S. Army Institute of Dental Research, WRAMC, Washington, DC
Colonel, U.S. Army Dental Corps, and chief, Bioengineering Branch, U.S. Army Institute of Dental Research, WRAMC, Washington, DC
associate professor and chairman, Division of Dental Medicine, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
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