Entries in Remains (9)


Remains of Two Civil War Sailors Head for Arlington

Original Artwork: Print by Currier & Ives. Photo by MPI/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The remains of two sailors from the Civil War’s USS Monitor arrived at Washington’s Dulles Airport Thursday morning in preparation for their burial Friday at Arlington National Cemetery.  The remains of the two unidentified sailors were found inside the turret of the iconic ironclad ship when it was found in the waters off of Cape Hatteras, N.C., in 2002.

The Union ironclad sank in a storm off the cape on Dec. 31, 1862, nine months after its landmark sea battle with the Confederate ironclad, the CSS Virginia -- previously known as the Merrimack.  The two sailors were among the 16 believed to have perished with the ship when it sank to the ocean floor. Fifty other sailors were able to survive the ship’s sinking.

The Navy plans to bury the two unidentified sailors on the 151st anniversary of its encounter with the Virginia in the Battle of Hampton Roads.  The battle of the ironclads was considered a draw, but the era of wooden ships was over.

For the past decade the Navy has tried to identify the sailors’ remains through genealogical research and forensic work conducted at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii, the same lab that identifies the remains of Americans recovered from the battlefields of Korea and Vietnam.

Though their identities still remain to be determined through DNA analysis, the forensic work determined that both were Caucasians who stood about 5-feet-7, one was in his late teens to early 20s, the other in his 30s.

A year ago, clay models of what they may have looked like were made public after a forensic reconstruction of their skulls.


The two flag-draped caskets were transported from Hawaii aboard Delta Airlines flights.  The plane that arrived at Dulles was a connecting flight from Atlanta.

Following military custom and the law, Navy officers and a Navy Ceremonial Guard were on the windswept tarmac as part of the Dignified Transfer to escort the remains to two waiting hearses.

The plane’s passengers remained aboard the aircraft as airport workers made preparations to off-load the caskets from the plane’s cargo hold onto a conveyor belt.  Throughout the Dignified Transfer many of the passengers could be seen peering through the plane’s windows snapping photos with their phones.  The ceremony was also witnessed by people inside the terminal looking out the picture windows by the plane’s  airport gate.

As each casket was moved down the conveyor belt it was greeted by a Navy chaplain and other Navy officers who stood at attention and saluted the remains.

As the chaplain said a brief prayer over each casket, airport workers could be seen bowing their heads in prayer.

Sailors from the Ceremonial Guard then approached to carry solemnly each casket to its hearse.

The burial of the two sailors has generated nationwide interest.  Juan Garcia, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, the senior official on hand for Thursday’s arrival, said the interest is easy to explain.

“This resonates for the Navy, for the Navy’s and for the whole country. Everyone has a stake in this,” he told ABC News.

He described it as a message that carries over to today’s service members.

“The sense of ’thank you, folks,’ for paying the last full measure of devotion, for being willing to raise their right hand, to go into harm’s way.  And fulfilling our promise to bring them home and to lay them to rest properly, even if it takes a century and a half to do so,” Garcia said.

Navy officials have said that these sailors could be the last two Navy personnel from the Civil War to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, a cemetery established during the Civil War on Robert E. Lee’s estate.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Long-Missing Iowa Man’s Skeleton Found During Home Renovation

Iowa Department of Public Safety(SAC CITY, Iowa) -- A man was renovating his home in Sac City, Iowa, when he came across what appeared to be skeletal remains in his basement. When he called the police, authorities arrived on scene and confirmed his suspicion.

“It was found buried in a very inaccessible spot in the basement,” Sac City Chief of Police John Thomsen told ABC News. “There are suspicious circumstances to it just for where the remains were found.”

The remains were sent to the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy and possible identification, according to police. Dental records positively identified the remains as those of Mark Koster.

Koster, 58, went missing on July 4, 2009. His disappearance was investigated at the time and a search warrant served on his home turned up no signs of foul play. He was legally declared dead at his family’s request in 2010, according to ABC News’ Sioux City affiliate KCAU-TV.

He reportedly had an unidentified male roommate living with him for about three months before he disappeared, Thomsen said. Neighbors knew of the man, but do not know his name. The case is currently under investigation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cremated Remains of 56 People Found in Ohio Closet

Hemera/Thinkstock(DAYTON, Ohio) -- Contractors cleaning out a foreclosed house in Dayton, Ohio, found the cremated remains of 56 people in one of the closets.

The ashes were in black plastic urns, labeled with the names of the decedents. The remains were crammed inside a closet along with several boxes of paperwork, all connected to a controversial funeral home.

“It was one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen, but I’m not exactly surprised, given this funeral home’s history,” Dayton police Lt. Wendy Stiver said.

The home was previously owned by the owner of the now-closed funeral home. The McLin Funeral Home’s license was revoked earlier this year after an investigation concluded that the business allegedly violated state laws, including possibly burying someone in the wrong grave, ABC affiliate WKEF-TV reported.

The coroner’s office is working to contact the next of kin of all 56 decedents, at which point they may choose to press charges, although it’s still unclear who is responsible for improperly storing the remains, Stiver said.

“It’s disheartening, obviously, but as of right now, there are no criminal charges,” Stiver said.

The remains date back decades, the earliest from 1982, and the rest are from the 1990s and 2000s, the Dayton Daily News reported.

It’s unclear how the remains ended up in the closet, whether they were abandoned or withheld from the next of kin. Investigators hope the next of kin will be able to clear up exactly what happened, adding that all the remains will have proper burials.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Six Airmen Lost over Laos in 1965 Buried at Arlington

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Six Air Force airmen killed in a 1965 plane crash in Laos during the Vietnam War were laid to rest Monday at Arlington National Cemetery, the culmination of a decades-long effort to find their remains, which were all interred in one casket.

The airmen were killed when their AC-47D “Spooky” gunship crashed on Christmas Eve, 1965, while on a combat mission over southern Laos.  A “mayday” signal was sent, but all contact was lost with the crew. Two days of search efforts for the plane and its crew proved unsuccessful.

Killed in the crash were Col. Joseph Christiano of Rochester, N.Y.; Col. Derrell B. Jeffords of Florence, S.C.; Lt. Col. Dennis L. Eilers of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Chief Master Sgt. William K. Colwell of Glen Cove, N.Y.; Chief Master Sgt. Arden K. Hassenger of Lebanon, Ore.; and Chief Master Sgt. Larry C. Thornton of Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Their remains would not be found for the next 45 years.  Today, they were interred with full military honors at Arlington National Ceremony before family members who finally got closure for their missing loved ones.

Jessica Pierno, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), said group burials are not uncommon for remains recovered from aircraft crashes, “given the state of remains when they’re recovered.”  In this case, Pierno said, investigators, “weren’t able to individually identify each member from the group, but we were able to determine that everyone from the group is represented in these remains.”

She notes that one member of the crew was individually identified from the remains found at the crash, Hassenger, who was buried on June 1 in Lebanon, Ore.  According to Pierno, Hassenger’s remains were also represented in Monday’s group burial.

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In 1995, a joint U.S.-Laotian search team was led to the crash site by a local farmer who had found aircraft wreckage in a nearby field.  The site was recommended for follow-up visits, but no human remains were found in four subsequent visits between 1999 and 2001.

Additional searches at the crash site in 2010 and 2011 led to the recovery of human remains, personal items, and military equipment.  Scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command used dental records and circumstantial evidence to identify the remains of the six airmen, with the final identification made this past March.

Pierno called the identification of the six missing airmen “a huge victory,” but also noted how big the effort is to recover America’s missing service members.

“It’s really important to understand that this is an effort going on year round with recovery teams around the world looking for 83,000 missing from World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Cold War,” she said. There are still 1,665 service members missing from the Vietnam War, 73,681 from World War II and 7,954 from the Korean War.

The recovery of the missing from the Vietnam War is made tougher with each passing day because of the acidic soil in Vietnam.

“The more acidic the soil, the more it can deteriorate the remains,” Pierno said. “The longer they are in the ground, the more they deteriorate and they’ll be harder to identify.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NJ Man Arrested After Daughter's Remains Found Under Home

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(KEANSBURG, N.J.) -- A New Jersey man is behind bars after a cleaning crew's discovery of his daughter's remains in a crawl space under his former home.

Dennis L. Adler, 57, was arrested and charged with second-degree disturbing of human remains by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

The Keansburg Police Department responded to a call Tuesday from a cleaning service working at the house in regard to the possible discovery of human remains, according to a news release from the prosecutor's office.

"Upon arrival at the scene, Keansburg Police confirmed the discovery of skeletal remains at the location and contacted the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office, and a joint investigation was immediately undertaken," the release said.

The remains were taken to a medical examiner's office where an autopsy and dental records comparison confirmed that the remains belonged to Kimberly Adler, who would be 27 now, according to prosecutors.

The medical examiner determined that Adler was likely 23 at the time of her death, so she would have been dead for about four years before being discovered. Prosecutors have yet to release a cause of death and her father has not been charged for her death.

Adler was charged for disturbing of human remains after the investigation concluded that he had concealed his daughter's remains "within their home for a period of time in 2008," according to prosecutors.

At some point after 2008, Adler "concealed his daughter's body beneath the crawl space" under his house, prosecutors allege.

"Kimberly Adler was never reported missing and, as such, law enforcement was unaware of her death until the discovery of her remains April 3," the news release said.

Members of the Adler family did not respond to requests for comment, but Greg Adler, the victim's brother, posted the following on his Facebook:

"I'm putting this to rest tonight: the remains found at 45 Campview Pl are in fact those of my little sister Kimberly Ann Adler (27 years old) … I'm sorry for posting this here but it is easier for me to post this here and put the rumors to rest … I do not want to go into further detail on what happened and that is how it will stay."

Dennis Adler is being held in jail with a $100,000 bail.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Partial Remains of Some 9/11 Victims Went to Landfill

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A Pentagon report released Tuesday revealed for the first time that some ashes from the cremated, unidentified partial remains of victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa., had been sent to a landfill.

The revelation was made in three brief mentions in a report released Tuesday by an independent Pentagon panel headed by retired Gen. John Abizaid.   The panel had been tasked with correcting procedures at the Armed Forces Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, which had been accused of “gross mismanagement.”

The earlier review corroborated allegations made by whistle-blowers that in two instances very small amounts of body tissue had been lost at the facility which serves as the main arrival point for the remains of service members killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For much of the past decade, the mortuary at Dover has contracted a medical waste company to cremate and incinerate any small unidentified portions of bone or tissue from service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan that might remain after the identification process has been completed.

From 2003 to 2008, the waste company disposed of any remaining ashes in a southern Virginia landfill, but that policy changed in 2009 and any remaining ashes are now disposed of at sea.  Before the policy change, the ashes of the partial remains of at least 274 service members had been disposed of in the landfill.

When the reports first surfaced in November, Air Force officials said they only had paperwork going back to 2003 and were unclear when the practice actually began. But the report released Tuesday found the practice actually began a year earlier, with some of the unidentified partial remains of victims of the  Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

A brief mention in the report says, “This policy began shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when several portions of remains from the Pentagon attack and the Shanksville, Pa., crash site could not be tested or identified.

"These cremated portions were then placed in sealed containers that were provided to a biomedical waste disposal contractor,” the report continues.  “Per the biomedical waste contract at that time, the contractor then transported these containers and incinerated them.”

The report makes no mention of how many remains from Sept. 11 victims may have been disposed in this manner.  Presumably they could not be identified because there was no DNA matter remaining in the small charred pieces of tissue that may have remained.

Dover Mortuary officials assumed that no remains would be left, but after an inquiry they were told “that there was some residual material following incineration, and that the contractor was disposing of it in a landfill. The landfill disposition was not disclosed in the contractual disposal agreement.”

The 9/11 attack on the Pentagon killed 184 people when a hijacked airliner crashed into the building. Another 40 passengers were killed aboard the plane that crashed into a Shanksville, Pa., field after passengers struggled to take control of the airplane from hijackers.

It is unclear if the families of 9/11 victims were aware that unidentified remains had gone to contractors and then to the landfill, or if they had given previous consent, as has been the case with the families of military service members.  

The families of military service members are provided with forms on which they can sign off on the disposition of any portion of remains that could not be identified or are found after most of the remains have been turned over to families for burial.

In a statement, James Laychak, president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, whose brother Dave died in the 9/11 attack, said his organization was aware of the report. Although he said the fund had not received a copy, “We are grateful for the willingness of the Department of Defense and other members of the subcommittee to conduct the independent review."

“We appreciate the department’s commitment to meeting the highest standards of care for the remains of our fallen heroes.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Air Force Asks for New Search of F-16 Pilot Troy Gilbert’s Remains in Iraq

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Air Force has agreed to a family’s plea that the Pentagon renew the search for the body of Major Troy Gilbert, whose F-16 fighter jet crashed in Iraq in 2006 as he came to the rescue of troops pinned down by enemy fire. His full remains were never recovered.

Gilbert’s remains were shown on an insurgent video taken at the crash site, but when American troops arrived at the wreckage they did not find his body.

A small amount of tissue found on the plane’s canopy was positively identified through DNA testing as belonging to Gilbert and was enough to classify him as “killed in action.”

It was that small set of remains that was interred at Arlington National Cemetery, and in the years since Gilbert’s family has held out hope that the search would continue for the rest of his remains.

When the last of the American troops left Iraq last December, the family was shocked to learn that no searches were being conducted for the rest of Gilbert’s remains because he is listed as killed in action, “body accounted for.”

Frustrated with that news, Gilbert’s family went public last week, requesting that the Air Force change Gilbert’s status to “unaccounted for” so that the Pentagon could reopen the search for his remains.

Gilbert’s mother, Kaye, told WFAA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Dallas, Texas, “My son is partially in the ground in Arlington, one or two inches maybe, but 99 percent is still in the ground over there, please, please help us get him home.”

An Air Force official said Thursday that Air Force Secretary Michael Donley agreed with the family that the search for the rest of Gilbert’s remains should resume.

According to the official, Donley sent a letter to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy requesting an “exception to policy” so that the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) could “assume a proactive pursuit of Major Gilbert’s remains and to bring the fullest possible accounting of his remains.”

Donley’s request must still be approved by the Under Secretary.

In a statement, Donley said the Air Force will work with the Defense Department and DPMO “to keep his case active and pursue information leading to the recovery of his subsequent remains.”

Donley added, “We honor the ultimate sacrifice Major Gilbert made for our nation. His family deserves nothing less than our best effort to recover his remains and return them to his loved ones.”

Gilbert’s family was notified of Donley’s action on Thursday and was overjoyed at the development.

“Our family is ecstatic!” Rhonda Jimmerson, Gilbert’s sister, told ABC News. “Mountains have moved and we’re very very happy that the military has agreed to continue the search for Troy.”

When his plane crashed in November 2006, Gilbert was coming to the rescue of American special operations forces down by Iraqi insurgents.

During his strafing runs, he flew his aircraft extremely low to the ground in an effort to avoid injuring civilians who were nearby. On his second pass the plane crashed after the tail end of his plane hit the ground.

For his heroic act, Gilbert was  posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Did Mutilated Teen Cadet Fall From an Airplane?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Authorities are investigating whether the North Carolina teen who was found battered to death on the side of a Massachusetts road more than 800 miles from home fell to his death from an airplane.

Remains found in Milton, Mass., last Monday have been identified as Delvonte Tisdale, 16, and one line of investigation is whether the ROTC cadet had been a stowaway in an aircraft. "The investigation remains active and ongoing on multiple fronts," David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney William Keating, said in a statement.

But an airport spokesman confirmed that he had been asked for information regarding the flights that flew over the area where Tisdale's body was found.

"I got a call about the possibility of a stowaway in one of the nose-wells of an aircraft," Logan International Airport spokesman Phil Orlandella said. "While I can't confirm that [he fell], we were asked to look into the flight tracks of who flew in over that community on the day [Tisdale] was found."

Craig Tisdale told the Charlotte Observer that his brother may have been running away from his father, with whom he did not have a good relationship. He said that Tisdale had planned to get a ride to Baltimore where his mother lives from friends heading to Boston, according to the paper.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Zahra Baker Remains Identified, Cops Say

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (HICKORY, N.C.) -- The body of 10-year-old Zahra Baker has been positively identified, ending a heart-wrenching month-long search for the disabled girl, police announced Friday.

The girl's remains were discovered this week during a search in Caldwell County, N.C., where the Baker family previously lived. Police had looked through the area earlier while accompanied by Zahra's stepmother Elisa Baker.

Zahra's birth mother, Emily Dietrich, flew from her home in Wagga Wagga, Australia on Thursday ahead of the announcement. She visited the Hickory, N.C., house where Zahra had been living with her father Adam Baker and stepmother Elisa Baker.

Adam Baker was questioned again by police Thursday, according to news reports. He had been arrested on unrelated charges after Zahra disappeared, but is free on bail.

Elisa Baker has been charged with obstruction of justice after police said she admitted writing a phony ransom note before calling in a missing persons report. Police have said she is cooperating with the probe.

Zahra was reported missing by her stepmother and father on Oct. 9, but police say no one outside of the family has reported seeing her since Sept. 25. Police have said they believe Zahra is dead.

Next Tuesday, Nov. 16, would have been Zahra's 11th birthday.

Police Chief Tom Adkins said he had hoped for a different outcome since the start of the investigation.  He added, "This case isn't over and we won't rest until we have all the information we need to bring the people to justice who hurt Zahra."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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