Police and coroner discuss identifying bodies

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Last weekend, a man was hit and killed by a car and officials spent several days getting a positive ID on the body.

Police say sometimes identifying a body takes time.

Law enforcement and coroners have multiple different ways of identifying a body, some take just minutes while others can take weeks, months and even years.

One of the first things law enforcement will look for is an ID on the person, such as a driver’s license.

Officials can also ask witnesses if they know a unidentified person.

But when those options fail, police can search missing person records, use DNA or dental records and more to find out the name of the deceased, according to Kentucky State Trooper Daniel Priddy.

“I think it’s extremely important to get family the information as soon as we can because that starts the healing process, and it helps a grieving family. What is really difficult for loved ones is the unknown and unknown for an extended period of time. So, we do everything that we can to try to identify each body that we can, each person that we respond to, each person that loses a life,” said Priddy.

People often do not suspect a family member or friend is missing for a few days, but that report can lead to a positive identification on a body.

“We depend on family reporting people missing,” said Priddy.

While most people have identification on them nearby, sometimes identifying a body is not so easy according to Warren County Coroner Kevin Kirby.

“If their fingerprints are available then those are very valuable to us. Also if someone has head injuries where they can’t be identified necessarily by looking at them, then we can go by surgery marks, scars, tattoos, specific tattoos that they had and then also still the dental records,” said Kirby.

“It is not real common, but it does happen. We usually have a few a year that we have to really dig into and really do some investigation into to try to make an identification,” said Priddy.

Even if it takes a little more time, officials want to be accurate in identifying a body.

“We want to make sure that we are 100% accurate when we identify a body. We want to make sure that when we say somebody is somebody,” said Priddy.

There are also databases where missing people are reported and police can match missing people with bodies found in order to make a positive identification.