Forensic anthropologist uncovering stories that bones have to te - KMOV.com

Forensic anthropologist uncovering stories that bones have to tell

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Dr. Trammell is trained to see clues in human bones that others can't see. (Credit: KMOV) Dr. Trammell is trained to see clues in human bones that others can't see. (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO -

Three times since the start of 2017, human remains have been discovered in Franklin County. The investigations to determine the identity of the remains and the causes of death have required the help of a unique type of investigator.

"If a pathologist or law enforcement can't look at an individual and positively identify them, then a forensic anthropologist is called in to help identify them," said Lindsay Trammell, Ph.D, a forensic anthropologist at the St. Louis County Medical Examiners office.

Trammell is trained to see clues in human bones that others can't see. She said just one bone can tell a lot about the person. 

"I could take measurements and get an idea how tall that person was, whether or not they're male or female. If the bone is fully formed and fused then we know it was an adult when they died. So, even something as simple as finding one bone, we can do quite a bit with that." Trammell said.

According to Trammell, bones show clues of certain types of illness or injuries the person had when they were alive that can help identify the remains. Trammell said forensic anthropologist are trained to tell the difference between marks on a skeleton made by an animal and marks made by an attacker when the person was still alive.

"You know the field itself is very interesting, what you can learn from bones is incredibly fascinating. But when it does come down to it you're dealing with a person, you're dealing with someone's loved one, you're dealing with human remains and the ultimate goal is to figure out who they are," Trammell said. 

Trammell said the most common and probably the easiest question she gets from law enforcement officers is whether bones that have been found are those of a human or an animal.

Above all, her expertise is crucial in helping law enforcement uncover crimes, and getting loved ones closure.

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