Cold Cases in Forensic Anthropology
Publication Year: 2013
Over the past thirty years, forensic anthropologist Mary H. Manhein has helped authorities to identify hundreds of deceased persons throughout Louisiana and beyond. In Bone Remains, she offers details of twenty riveting cases from her files -- many of them involving facial reconstructions where only bones offered clues to an individual's story.
Manhein takes readers into the field, inside her lab, and through DNA databases and government bureaucracies as she and her team tirelessly work to identify and seek justice for those who can no longer speak for themselves. From a two-thousand-year-old mummy, to Civil War sailors, to graves disturbed by Hurricane Isaac, Manhein presents both modern and historic cases. Her conversational accounts provide a fascinating look into the stories behind the headlines as well as sometimes heart-wrenching details of people lost and found.
Manhein shows how each case came to her team, how they used scientific analysis to unravel the secrets the bones had to tell, and how facial reconstructions and a special database for missing and unidentified people assisted in closing cold cases long believed to be unsolvable. She also discusses several mysteries that still elude her, further reflecting the determination and passion central to Manhein's career for over three decades.
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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Bone Remains is the final installment in a nonfiction trilogy about my career in forensic anthropology. It follows The Bone Lady and Trail of Bones. I chose the title Bone Remains because often bones are all that remain to tell the story of a person’s life and death, and because lifeless human bodies are referred to as “remains.” This ...
1. In the Deep Woods
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The hunters were walking in the deep woods of north Louisiana. The man and his son stumbled across what appeared to be human bones, though they seemed too small to represent an adult. The bones were just a few feet off a narrow, unpaved road used only by the members of a private hunting club. The man quickly called the sheriff’s office to report the gruesome vously, on the third ring, I picked it up. A coroner needed a forensic central Louisiana, had asked his wife and full-time assistant, Mrs. ...
2. Long Journey Home
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It was the summer of 1975. Popular music was spinning great stories of broken hearts and bad love. Carly Simon’s earlier hit, “You’re so Vain” was still riding a wave of success on the radio, and the Eagles were grinding out “One of These Nights,” which would become an overnight success of its own. Antonio Barajas, a young western Louisiana for reasons unknown. After a brief sighting in Many, Louisiana, in DeSoto Parish, Barajas and his friend vanished. A short time later, his friend’s body showed up in a city dump. More ...
3. A “Princess” of Thebes
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She lay in a glass-enclosed case in the center of the room. Footfalls tapped softly against the highly polished floor as visitors surrounded her exhibit in the small museum adjacent to the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For over fifty years she had rested there, but it was not her home, and those visitors were not her people. Reportedly, she was “a princess of Thebes” and had been brought to Louisiana in 1964 when the museum in Philadelphia where she had previously resided shut its ...
4. A Matter of Concealment
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On April 25, 1986, a farmer in Sabine Parish took a good look down into the old well on his property in northwest Louisiana. He had not used the well in more than fifteen years but felt he needed to clean it out in order to have more water in the immediate region for his cattle. The blue, polyethylene plastic floating in the water quite a few feet down in the well was somewhat of a puzzle. Why in the world would such a large piece of plastic be down in the old well? The well was approximately thirty ...
5. The Power of Tattoos
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The driver of the eighteen-wheeler had just finished eating a late dinner right after midnight on that hot July night in 1990 in Hammond, Louisiana. He was heading for his truck parked close to the highway when something caught his eye. As he edged closer to what looked like a pile of rags, he almost lost his dinner. Lying there in the parking lot of the popular truck stop was what was left of a man’s body. His body was heavily damaged Several days after the man was found, I was called by the coro-...
6. The Power of Fingerprints
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He was known in the small town of Eunice, Louisiana, in St. Landry Parish, as “the bicycle man.” He had appeared a few months prior and often could be seen riding his bicycle throughout the area. Sometimes he pulled a small cart on friendly, but a loner to most. One evening in late spring near dusk, 2005, he was struck accidentally by a car as he rode along a highway knew for certain who he was. He lay in a parish coroner’s office for almost two months and still had no name. In a conversation with ...
7. A Son’s Transgression
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As we were about to enter the private home where a set of human remains had been found in an upstairs bedroom, the neighbor walked over to me and said, “Yeah, we’ve been seeing a bunch of flies around that second-story window for quite some time and wondered what that was about.” I looked We had received a phone call that day from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Coroner’s Office. A man’s body had been found in the upstairs bedroom of a home in Metairie, Louisiana, ...
8. Man Overboard
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The Ross Barnett Reservoir near Brandon, Mississippi, is a large artificial body of water surrounded by expensive homes, condominiums, and apartment complexes. On April 28, 2011, in the vicinity of a row of apartments, a man looked out across the water and saw what he thought was a body floating in the water. He immediately called authorities. The subsequent fifty and sixty-five years of age, more than likely weighed around had died by drowning. For almost five months, investigators Chris ...
9. A Child from the Past
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The cemetery worker was somewhat surprised at what lay before him as he dismantled the old burial vault. Certain vaults in historic St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Thibodaux, Louisiana, were in the process of being refurbished, while others vaults, the cemetery worker discovered an underground component to the vault with a small cast iron coffin resting inside. The coffin had a glass viewing plate at the head end, and fairly well-preserved dants had decided to place the deceased from the two vaults within ...
10. Cat’s Paw
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Unusual cases seem to gravitate toward the FACES Lab. We have dealt with paper-mache skulls, alien-like guitar fish, a fake “bigfoot” print, an ostrich humerus with a prosthesis, and wild and domestic animals galore. Yet there always seems to be room for a new first. Such was the case we received One day we were presented with what clearly was the forelimb of a sizable animal: the humerus, the radius, the ulna, and the forepaw. It was large, very large. Nothing else from the animal had been ...
11. In a Cotton Field
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In the summer of 2010, a farmer was plowing his cotton field in Natchitoches Parish in northwestern Louisiana when he hit something with his plow near the edge of the road. He got off his tractor to see what it was and discovered a human skull. He called the sheriff. Sheriff’s deputies and the coroner, Dr. Curtis, arrived at the scene and soon noticed that more than just a skull When we arrived at the site after a three-hour drive, the sheriff’s deputies and coroner’s investigators were there waiting for us. They ...
12. The USS Monitor and Her Crew
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On December 30, 1862, the USS Monitor, an ironclad warship, was being guided to shore in turbulent seas off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, when it sank beneath the waves, ending up on the ocean’s floor. Sixteen of the its Civil War battle with the ironclad CSS Virginia, which the South had refurbished from the USS Merrimack. The battle of ironclads began on March 9, 1862, at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and lasted for several days, with the Virginia being somewhat bested by Monitor. ...
13. Victims of the Ku Klux Klan
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One day in 2008, Dr. Janet McDonald of Syracuse University called me with an interesting proposition. McDonald told me that she was a law professor at Syracuse in New York and was wondering if I would be interested in helping her with a cause that was close to her heart. Her project is called the Syracuse University College of Law Cold Case Justice Initiative. She and some of her students are reviewing several cases from the 1960s Klan. Now, in the 1960s in Louisiana, if someone was a member of ...
14. Hurricane Isaac
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A ugust 29, 2012. They called it a “slow-moving” storm, and they said it was “big.” Packing winds of less than one hundred miles per hour and crawling along like a baby just learning how to slide across the floor, Hurricane Isaac approached southern Louisiana. Seven years to the day almost after Unlike Katrina, where authorities called for evacuation and many stayed, people left town on the run when the weathermen said Isaac those two cities would see fallen trees, power loss, and moderate ...
15. Cold-Case Database
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Though much of our time is spent on active forensic cases that we receive on a regular basis (between forty and forty-five a year), the resolution of some of our cold cases which have been in our laboratory for many years provides us with the incentive to continue our search for the identities of others. investigator for Orleans Parish, called and told me that someone looked human. John asked if I could help him with them, and, of the twenty-third case brought to our lab in 1992. I could tell imme-...
EPILOGUE: Cases I Always Wanted to Solve
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Whether it has been working on modern cases, historic cases, or others, my professional lifetime in forensic anthropology has been the most rewarding career a person could have. I will always be grateful to have been a part of this amazing ride and to have had the opportunity to do something good in this world. As I wind down a long career in forensic anthropology, I think about a few questions that often have been asked of me: “What has driven you all these years, Mary? ...
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I thank LSU Press and, especially, Margaret Lovecraft for believing in my work. I thank the anonymous reader for constructive criticism. I thank Stan Ivester for his meticulous final editing. I thank ...
Page Count: 136
Illustrations: 41 halftones
Publication Year: 2013