History of Forensic Odontology and DVI in Australia

Klaus Rötzscher (ed.)Forensic and Legal Dentistry201410.1007/978-3-319-01330-5_3

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

3. History of Forensic Odontology and DVI in Australia

Jane Taylor , Russell Lain  and William O’Reilly 
(1)

Department of Oral HealthDepartment of Oral Health, School of Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, Ourimbah, NSW, 2258, Australia
(2)

Department of Oral Surgery and Diagnostic Imaging, Sydney Dental Hospital, 2 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills, NSW, 2010, Australia
 
 
Jane TaylorAss. Prof. (Corresponding author)
 
Russell LainDr.
 
William O’ReillyAss. Prof.
Abstract
Forensic odontology played a vital and historical role in an Australian homicide in 1934. Known as the Albury Pyjama Girl Case, it attracted worldwide interest for many years and illustrated the potential and the importance of dental evidence in the identification process. On the 1st of September of that year, the partly burned and battered body of a young woman clad in pajamas was found in a roadside culvert near Albury, NSW. This discovery led to one of the longest investigations in the history of Australian crime. Two simple errors by a local dentist with no previous experience in forensic odontology, who was called in by the police to examine the teeth of the victim, resulted in a delay in identification for 10 years. When identification by dental comparison was finally achieved in 1944, the crime was quickly solved and the woman’s husband was brought to trial for murder. The application of dental science for identification in those days was on an ad hoc basis, and individual dentists, usually with no experience or training in forensic matters, were expected to assist as needed. The Pyjama Girl Case vividly demonstrated the serious consequences of this practice (Brown 1984).

3.1 Introduction

Forensic odontology played a vital and historical role in an Australian homicide in 1934. Known as the Albury Pyjama Girl Case, it attracted worldwide interest for many years and illustrated the potential and the importance of dental evidence in the identification process. On the 1st of September of that year, the partly burned and battered body of a young woman clad in pajamas was found in a roadside culvert near Albury, NSW. This discovery led to one of the longest investigations in the history of Australian crime. Two simple errors by a local dentist with no previous experience in forensic odontology, who was called in by the police to examine the teeth of the victim, resulted in a delay in identification for 10 years. When identification by dental comparison was finally achieved in 1944, the crime was quickly solved and the woman’s husband was brought to trial for murder. The application of dental science for identification in those days was on an ad hoc basis, and individual dentists, usually with no experience or training in forensic matters, were expected to assist as needed. The Pyjama Girl Case vividly demonstrated the serious consequences of this practice (Brown 1984).

3.2 The Australian Scene

Its directions role has been significantly influenced by the continent’s geography, with vast areas of outback

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Nov 26, 2015 | Posted by in General Dentistry | Comments Off on History of Forensic Odontology and DVI in Australia
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