For nearly 100 years (1908-2008), unidentified human remains – known as John & Jane Doe’s – in San Bernardino County (California) have been buried in a three acre plot of land located in one of the county’s many cemeteries. Many of these individuals were the victims of foul play, others were simply forgotten by society. All, however, have one thing in common: forensic science was unable to identify who they were using the methods available at the time.
In 2001, the California Senate passed Bill 297, which asked counties such as San Bernardino to apply modern DNA analysis to these decades-old cold cases. This field school will conduct forensic work to assist in such identification.
Students will excavate burials in forensic contexts, perform preliminary analysis of the remains and help collect remains to send for further laboratory analysis before documenting and reburying the remains.