The Use of Forensic Archaeology in Missing Person Cases

  • Ann Marie MiresEmail author


Forensic scientific investigations concern themselves with inquiry into the specific context of a crime and the manner in which the crime was committed. Forensic Archaeology is a scientific discipline that applies archaeological techniques to recover, analyze, and interpret human remains from a variety of medicolegal and contemporary circumstances. This forensic inquiry allows for the examination and interpretation of death scenes and their associated bodily remains for information that can reveal the identity of the person, as well as associated evidence and context that reveal the circumstances of the crime. In this paper, the expansion of the role of Forensic Archaeology to assist in the location of missing persons, both from recent and remote contexts, will be presented. Current research on missing persons at the national and local level suggest that missing persons, from both intentional and accidental means, are often found within a 1–5 mile radius of where they were last seen. By examining current patterns in the manner of death, or information enlightening “by whose hand,” much can be learned about the particular circumstances that lead to body deposition and behavior at death scenes. As information is compiled, trends in the data assist in creating a series of correlates that can be used as predictors of a particular manner of death. These data provide scenarios that can be used as predictive models to implement at the time a person goes missing to reduce the time between disappearance and location, rescue or recovery. Additionally, this modeling proves useful when reexamining cold cases of unfound missing persons in an attempt to locate these unfound after considerable time. Case examples, utilizing Forensic Archaeology Recovery (FAR) personnel, will be presented to highlight the use of predictive modeling in search and recovery and in unfound missing persons’ cases.


Missing persons Massachusetts Manner of death Predictive modeling Forensic Archaeology Recovery 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Forensic CriminologyAnna Maria CollegePaxtonUSA

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