Experts detail bone identification process

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI)- Providence police have publicly identified the remains found at a Prairie Avenue construction site one year ago.

The death of Philip Seals is now being investigated as a homicide. Seals was born in 1936 and lived in Providence from 1976 until 1982, when he went missing.

The state’s chief medical examiner says a Rhode Island Hospital id badge was found near the body, but DNA testing was needed to confirm the identity.

Dixie Peters from the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification was called in to assist with the identification process. The team collected DNA from a tooth and arm bone that belonged to Seals. The DNA was cross referenced with DNA from one of Seals’ siblings, using cells from inside the cheek.

“If you don’t have something to compare that to, you’ll never be able to identify them. That’s where reference samples are really important,” said Peters.

DNA analysts also cross referenced Seals’ DNA with samples from a local, state and federal database.

The state medical examiner’s office is expected to release the remains to Seals’ next of kin.

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