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U. of South Florida Awarded $424K for DNA Testing of Unidentified Bodies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Office of Justice Programs' National Institute of Justice today announced the awarding the University of South Florida $423,528 to use DNA technology in the investigation of unidentified children whose bodies were found buried in unmarked graves.

Under the project at USF led by Erin Kimmerle, investigators will use DNA testing to investigate missing and unidentified children between the ages of six and 18 who died under unexplained circumstances and were buried in unmarked graves at the former Arthur Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla.

USF said that the Dozier site has a cemetery with 31 metal crosses, but USF researchers have identified at least 19 other grave shafts outside the cemetery. Kimmerle, who created the Forensic Anthropology Laboratory at USF, later this week will begin excavating the unmarked grave site to return the remains of children buried there to their families, after they have been identified through DNA testing.

The grant will be used to perform the testing and to conduct forensic anthropological examinations of the human remains for identification, NIJ said. The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification will perform the DNA analysis, compare the samples, and enter the data into the Combined DNA Index System and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

NIJ said in a statement that newer DNA technologies have become available "thanks in part to NIJ-funded research and development, which has contributed to the ability of crime laboratories to successfully analyze aged, degraded, and compromised biological evidence."