Emma Tilley

Fellow’s Profile

Emma Tilley

Bodies without names: How the police use of investigative genetic genealogy can provide resolution for families of the unidentified

Fellowship

Focus

Discovering how investigative genetic genealogy can provide a resolution for families of the unidentified

Fellowship year

2020

Locality

West Midlands

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Biography

My Fellowship enables me to visit the USA, Canada and Sweden to research investigative genetic genealogy. Investigative genetic genealogy can be described as combining DNA analysis and family-tree building. It is an emerging technique of forensic science, being used with much success to solve unidentified bodies cases and to identify suspects in so-called ‘cold cases’. Someone is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK and most of these incidents are resolved within two days. However, a small number of incidents remain unsolved for the long term. In England and Wales, there are over 4,500 long-term missing individuals. Some of these people have been missing for many years or even several decades. Tragically, some of the people reported missing will have died and, for whatever reason, remain undiscovered or discovered but unidentified. Every year, some will be buried or cremated without their given names, unbeknownst to their families, because the authorities were unable to establish their identity. In the UK, there are over 1,000 outstanding unidentified bodies or body parts cases. The immense impact on the families left behind in a state of unknowing is difficult to comprehend. The ‘ambiguous loss’ experienced by families can be described as fluctuating between hope and hopelessness, making it impossible to move on. With the passage of time, the emotional, social, financial, legal and other strains increase rather than alleviate. Investigative genetic genealogy has the potential to provide many families with a resolution. My Fellowship research will allow me to discover best practice and bring it back to policing in the UK.

Disclaimer

All Reports are copyright © the author. The moral right of the author has been asserted. The views and opinions expressed by any Fellow are those of the Fellow and not of the Churchill Fellowship or its partners, which have no responsibility or liability for any part of them.

Disclaimer

All Reports are copyright © the author. The moral right of the author has been asserted. The views and opinions expressed by any Fellow are those of the Fellow and not of the Churchill Fellowship or its partners, which have no responsibility or liability for any part of them.

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