Forensic Scientists Demonstrate the Utility of Forensic Genetic Genealogy in an Australian Context
Scientists from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) have applied Forensic Genetic Genealogy (FGG) – successful in the US in identifying John and Jane Doe cases - in an Australian context.
This work represents a potential break-through in the area of long-term missing persons and unidentified deceased individuals, where the application of FGG is expected to assist in the identification of these individuals, which will greatly assist the work the VIFM and the Coroners Court of Victoria conducts on long-term missing persons.
While the use of FGG has successfully identified these types cases overseas, to our knowledge, this is the first application of its kind in Australia using unidentified human remain cases.
In 2019, Dr Dadna Hartman from the VIFM and other scientists, began a collaborative research project to evaluate the use of FGG as an investigative tool using a number of unknown deceased cases. Working with Dr Colleen Fitzpatrick from Identifinders International they applied genealogy principles to develop investigative leads.
Cases were selected based on their circumstances, sample availability, and the fact that all currently available forensic methodologies for the identification of unknown deceased persons had been exhausted.
FGG was considered the last opportunity to identify these individuals.
The research considerations for successful application of FGG in these cases included whether there was sufficient representation of Australians in Genetic Genealogy databases to yield links to potential family members, and the availability of genealogy search records to develop investigative leads.
The research outcomes are the first step in the process of evaluation of FGG. Significant work is still required to assess the various components of the FGG process prior to operationalization and use in the identification of unknown deceased persons. This work will be undertaken as part of the Australian Forensic Genetic Genealogy Collaboration with other Law Enforcement agencies, in close consultation with the Coroners Court.
Enquiries: Dr Dadna Hartman 96844336 or firstname.lastname@example.org