AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — After identifying the remains of a missing man on Thursday, the Potter County Sheriff’s Office shared details about their processes for identifying remains.
Sgt. Jacob Powell who works in the Crime Scene Unit at the sheriff’s office said they work with the Criminal Investigation Division to identify remains. Every year, Powell said they see a handful of cases that are much harder to identify because of the condition they are found in.
“Most often we do find what we would consider an entire body or entire set of remains that we can use several different methods to identify,” said Powell. “We can use fingerprints to identify people if they’ve ever been put into a fingerprint database when we might end up using DNA results.”
But when they have fewer remains, it limits their options.
“You know, we can’t use photographs to identify people in some circumstances and so we’ll collect DNA that’s available from the remains that we find and compare those against a family member if we have one available to see if there’s a familial match with the DNA.”
Powell said results can take a while, depending on which lab is doing the processing.
“So particularly when there’s not a criminal offense involved, and we’re not using our state crime labs, we rely on some of the universities around the area to do some of that testing for us,” he said. “And depending on their caseload, we may be waiting some time for those DNA results.”
Powell adds that identifying human remains is extremely important as it provides definitive evidence.
“Just like in any criminal case, we love to find the clues that tell us exactly what happened. We want to provide the ultimate truth for that family and let them know exactly what happened to their loved one,” Powell added. “That really begins the healing process for them, and they can continue to move on with their grieving process.”