Lijken: Lost and found: The identification process of human bodies recovered from the North Sea, JFLM 2016


Authors: Wilma Duijst, Charlotte Passier, Bernice Oude Grotebevelsborg, Dorothee de Kat, Marjolijn van Daalen, Roelof Jan Oostra.


Files of the Dutch bureau of missing persons at the North Sea (BVPN) were investigated to analyse the process that led to identification of human bodies recovered from the North Sea between 1980 and 2013. Of the 94 cases that were analysed 41.5% was identified by the family, 23.4% by the use of DNA and 17% by the use of the dental status. The linking pin for the identification was the place where the body was found (14.9%), the general appearance (12.8%), jewellery (11.6%) and media attention (9.6%). In only a few cases the DNA or fingerprint database was used for identification.

When a person is not reported missing the identification is problematic because of the lack of antemortem data. National and international databases of people who have gone missing, can help solve this problem.