Mary-Claire King Case Analysis

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By the time of its application in the U.S. military in 1991, mtDNA identification had been used in some international and domestic atrocities and murder cases. The most famous application is Mary-Claire King’s task in the late 1980s in identifying the victims of the Argentine “dirty war” at the request of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, an organization sharing many features with the NLF. In 1991, mtDNA saw its first use in the U.S. Mark Stoneking used the mtDNA from a skull to identify a girl lost for four years. An mtDNA test to trace the fate of Tsar Nicholas II’s families was also proposed in 1991. Encouraged by the success, on July 15, 1991, two AFDIL experts collected seven bone fragments in the coffin supposed to contain Maj. Fanning. …show more content…

In 1993, upon families’ requests, a body buried as “X-6” was exhumed and identified as Archie T. Bourg (killed in the 1958 shoot down mentioned earlier) by mtDNA evidence. Rather than accepting a funeral, Archie’s sister Lorna, probably still remembering the 1985 scandal, felt that they could not fully trust this new technique and demanded an independent test. Mary-Claire King answered the request and brought a blow to the military forensics society---she claimed that the remains could not be Archie Bourg’s because of two mismatches in the mtDNA sequence. King’s report attacked the military again like the ones in the 1980s: 1) Lorna Bourg, especially after her trip to the crash site in August 1993, claimed that the military fabricated the mtDNA result and covered that Archie was forgotten in Russia; 2) King toured the AFDIL and suspected that the military contaminated the X-6 sample. Worrying about public attacks, the military put a one-year moratorium on the use of mtDNA on February 3, 1994 and sought additional help from the UK. It vindicated the military, but this incidence improved the AFDIL’s quality control in the mtDNA …show more content…

While it allowed many families to confirm the fate of their long-lost beloved ones, this technology reopened the scars of others who were shocked to learn that the graves they had attended for decades may contain someone else. On September 21, 1967, 15 U.S. soldiers were killed and left behind in a jungle in Vietnam. 19 days later, 14 bodies were identified but 2 of them were so decomposed that were only presumed to be Aaron Berry and Mark W. Judge, while the one missing was listed as Kenneth Plumadore. However, in 1994, when the CILHI examined a body labeled as Plumadore returned in 1986, it concluded that it was actually Judge. The mtDNA test in AFDIL corroborated the CILHI finding. Two years later, the mothers of these three servicemen had to exhume their son’s bodies, but a new mtDNA test in 1997 only vaguely identified two of them. The uncertainty made a POW/MIA group, National Alliance of Families, suspect mtDNA as valid evidence. Whereas it is early to judge this claim, its action might lead to another revolution in military

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