Human Remains Analysis and Cremains


Dr. Snow is an expert in the analysis of the biological profile of decomposed, mummified, burned, skeletonized, incomplete, commingled, and fragmentary remains.  He can quickly determine whether bones are human and whether they are forensically significant, which can save law enforcement many hours at the scene.

If the remains are found to be human and forensically significant, Dr. Snow then determines the biological profile, which includes the sex, ancestry, age at death, and physical stature of the individual. He has found that many human remains are unidentified because of an inaccurate assessment of sex, ancestry, or age.

Dr. Snow is often called on to estimate time since death, as well as trauma, including gunshot wounds, sharp force trauma, blunt force trauma, and reconstruction of fragmentary remains. He uses a variety of methods to identify the remains, including individualizing characteristics, radiographic comparisons, and DNA sampling.

Dr. Snow is often contacted by attorneys to examine cremated remains (cremains).  Cremation is becoming increasingly common in the United States with nearly 49% opting for cremation as an alternative to burial in 2015. Since 2000 the cremation rate has nearly doubled, and this trend is expected to continue.

Along with this increase in the cremation rate is litigation in which the crematory or funeral home is accused of misconduct. This alleged misconduct may result in doubt as to whether the contents of an urn are consistent with cremains, whether the contents of the urn are those of the decedent, and whether the contents may represent more than one individual. Cremation and subsequent processing reduces the bones to small fragments and ash, which present unique challenges for the forensic anthropologist. 

Although in most cases positive identification cannot be established with commercial cremation, analysis of the cremains can often determine whether they are consistent with the life history and accompanying materials of the decedent. Items such as medical and dental artifacts and personal and mortuary artifacts may presumptively link the cremains to the purported decedent.


Expert Witness

Dr. Snow has testified as an expert witness in forensic anthropology in both Superior and Federal Court. His expert testimony has been critical to the outcome of several high profile criminal cases. He has testified in cases utilizing his expertise in search and recovery, biological profiles, trauma, time since death, manner of death, and identification.

Unidentified Human Remains

Many forensic identification experts estimate the number of unidentified dead in the United States to be between 40,000 and 60,000. Since 2011 Dr. Snow has been working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to identify missing children. He has collected biometric data on over 100 individuals and conducted over 20 exhumations.

Body Search and Recovery

Dr. Snow is an expert in body search and recovery. In his six years as the Forensic Anthropologist for the State of Georgia at Large, he conducted more that 60 human remains recoveries.