BOMBSHELL: Human Remains Identified

( – In a history-making turn of events, a groundbreaking DNA study has unveiled the family tree of America’s first president, George Washington, by identifying the skeletal remains of his grandnephews and their mother in a West Virginia family burial ground.

Published in the academic journal iScience, the research spotlighted the remains of Samuel Walter Washington, George Steptoe Washington Jr. and their mother, Lucy Payne Washington.

Buried without markers and fragmented, these remains were discovered at the Harewood family cemetery in the 1800s.

This discovery is set to pave the way for future efforts to identify the remains of military personnel who have been lost in historical conflicts, going as far back as World War II.

Leading the study and affiliated with the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFMES-AFDIL) situated at Dover Air Force Base, Courtney Cavagnino emphasized these techniques’ potential to improve the identification processes for casework samples, which are often found in a state of degradation similar to or worse than historical remains.

The 1999 excavation of the Harewood Cemetery attempted to locate the grave of George Washington’s younger brother, Samuel but unearthed five unmarked graves and their skeletal remains.

Despite preliminary analyses conducted in the early 2000s, the recent study sought to determine the identities of individuals linked to three of these graves decisively.

By using advanced DNA testing and comparing genetic material with that of a current Washington descendant, the researchers successfully confirmed the identities of the unearthed remains.

Charla Marshall, the project’s senior researcher, highlighted the case as a valuable opportunity to refine methods for predicting extended kinship, which are being validated for routine application in casework.

AFMES-AFDIL, a key component of the Department of Defense’s DNA operations, is the only laboratory dedicated to identifying human remains and supports both contemporary missions and historical identification efforts dating back to World War II.

According to researchers the novel methodologies developed and used in this study are expected to enhance the accuracy of identifications in cases where remains have undergone considerable degradation.

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