Volume 44, Issue 3 (May 1999)
Identification of a Skeleton Using DNA from Teeth and a PAP Smear
Identification of unknown living or deceased persons using dental treatment records is an established forensic technique. However, some cases remain unidentified, especially when antemortem dental records are not available for comparison to postmortem dental records. Cytological smears have been previously reported to be potential sources of DNA reference samples which can be compared to DNA recovered from found human remains. The case described here involves an adult skeleton which exhibited extensive, complex dental restorative treatment. A putative identification of the found skeleton as a missing woman was established using circumstantial evidence found at the scene. However, it became important to establish a positive identification using reliable scientific methods. When it was discovered that antemortem dental records were not available because the treatment was completed in another country and the treating dentist could not be found, cytological smears stained with Papanicolaou (PAP) stain obtained from the putative decedent's medical records were used as a reference DNA sample. DNA was recovered from the teeth of the skeleton using cryogenic grinding. Comparison of the genotypes resulted in the conclusion that the DNA originated from the same source. The use of PAP smears in this way is seen as a valuable resource in cases where positive identification using traditional dental and medical records is not possible.