Volume 47, Issue 1 (January 2002)
Jonestown Tragedy Revisited: The Role of Dentistry
The authors record the contribution of dentistry to the identification of victims of one of the most significant tragedies of the 20th century—the mass suicide of members of a religious cult, which initially resulted in 913 deaths and ultimately in 923. Though forensic dentistry played a significant part in identifying victims, the only report by members of the United States identification team did not examine dentistry's valuable role. Furthermore, the dental-investigation aspects have been mentioned merely in passing by the news media despite an infinite number of stories on the tragedy ranging from factual to expose. The dental team's organization, methodology, and significant contributions to forensic dentistry and a variety of remarkable problems that the team encountered and the lessons learned from them are documented in this paper.