Forensic Anthropologist Surmises on Time Frame for Identification of Remains

Forensic anthropologist William Stevens says the amount of time it could take for a positive identification to be made on the body found in Big Spring depends on the condition of the remains."If a body is mummified like that usually I think we'd rely more on X-rays to look at growth and development to predict the age of a person. Positive ID would depend entirely on what is available for the suspective person, you know, X-rays or dental records which tend to be the easier route," Stevens said.When asked the amount of time he would expect for a positive identification to be made, he replied, "Depending on the availability of records and anti-mortem X-rays and dental records, it can be done in less than a week."Stevens also surmised what would be left after a long period of time has passed, based on the environment in which the remains were found."I don't know exactly the conditions or how deep the body was buried, but likely in the sandy desert environment, they could mummify quickly in that time preserving a lot if not all of the hair and soft tissues."Stevens also says that with this past summer's record-breaking heat and dry conditions, the decomposition process would be significantly slower, helping to expedite the process of finding a positive identification to less than a week.Last year both Clint and Billie Dunn, Hailey's parents, provided police with DNA samples.Stephens says with a high profile case like this, DNA records would be readily available, which would also expedite the process in finding the identification.