Adam: a 21st-century murder mystery: how mtDNA, strontium isotopes, and stomach contents led London detectives from the Thames River to a road in Nigeria. (Research)

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Author: Philip Hunter
Date: June 30, 2003
From: The Scientist(Vol. 17, Issue 13)
Publisher: Scientist Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 581 words

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In a remarkable show of scientific sleuthing, London detectives combined mitochondrial DNA analysis, traditional forensic tests, and legwork that took them halfway around the globe, to narrow down the identity of a murdered 6-year-old boy. The child, whose headless, limbless torso was found floating in the Thames River nearly two years ago, reportedly died of neck injuries.

The case began on September 21, 2001, when the child, whom police call Adam, was discovered in east London. Suspecting that he had been killed in a ritual ceremony, police took nuclear DNA samples to compare against those of parents who reported a missing child fitting Adam's description. No matches were found, and after three months with virtually no progress, an idea emerged: Comparing Adam's mtDNA with existing databases of geographic distribution might elicit the boy's origin. "We thought that if the boy came from Africa, it might...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A105479015