Volume 40, Issue 3 (May 1995)
The Role of Forensic Anthropology in the Recovery and Analysis of Branch Davidian Compound Victims: Techniques of Analysis
The recovery and analysis of human remains from the Branch Davidian Compound, Mount Carmel, Texas, was a multidisciplinary team effort. This presentation deals with one aspect of the forensic anthropological contribution to this collaborative endeavor—the examination and inventory of human skeletal remains and the interpretation of these osteological data. Briefly described first are the content and format of the skeletal inventory and the examination procedures used for data collection. Two subsequent sections illustrate the use of these data to determine (a) age, sex, ancestry, stature, and other distinguishing characteristics, and (b) the presence and nature of any premortem, perimortem, and postmortem trauma. The next section shows how these findings assist in establishing positive identification through, for example, comparison with medical, dental, and other background records, especially comparison of premortem and postmortem radiographs of bones or dentition. In this context, we consider also the sorting of commingled remains, which includes preliminary assessment of rapidly decomposing remains prior to autopsy to preserve information crucial to identification.