This is a first for me.  Today I stood graveside at a cemetary in West Palm Beach when bodies were exhumed.  The first one was a 4 week old little girl.  She was found dead on a canal bank 15 years ago.  She was never identified.  It was kind of surreal to watch this happened.  First a man from the Medical Examiner’s office made the sign of the cross, then pulled the tiny coffin from its resting spot. 

Next, we were at the grave of a man in his 60, found dead in the woods near Jupiter in 1988.  When the coffin was opened, there was a decayed box in there along with the body bag.  In that box was his skull and other information about the body, kind of like notes from the medical examiner. 

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After that, we went to detectives got two more bodies.  

Part of what was so strange is we always have this idea of letting the dead “rest in peace.”  In these cases, all of them were unidenitifed remains that have been in the graves for years.  In some cases, their families have no idea what happened to them.  Imagine the pain of having a loved one missing and  you not knowing what happened.  Are they alive, being held captive like Jacyee Dugard was in California all those years?  Could they have amnesia, living a life somewhere else, not knowing they have a family?  The possiblities are endless.

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What’s going on is detectives and a great community activist, Dinorah Perry from Missing Children International Minisitries, are working with grant money to match unidentified bodies with people who have been reported missing. The  part of the remains are shipped to the University of North Texas.  There, they try collect DNA evidence.  They put that information into the Codis Database.  That’s a huge database for DNA.  Once in there, there could be a hit or partial hit.  Let’s say someone is in prison in Montana and there is a partial hit from one of the bodies here.  That could mean the body here is related to that inmate.   At least this way, detectives can ask,  “Hey, do you have a missing brother, sister…” 

Bottom line, this is a way to possibly ease the pain of families who never knew what happened to their loved one.  And if the case appears to be murder, it could give detectives crucial new clues to solve a decades old cold case.

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