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The Curious Case of the Missing Bones

...pathologist plans to search Forensic Science Centre

By Susan Mohammed susan.mohammed@trinidadexpress.com

THERE is to be a search at the Forensic Science Centre for a skeleton, believed to be that of a Cedros man whose remains were found almost three years ago, then lost again.

The bones, presumed to be those of farmer Joseph Panchorie, were
delivered to the State institution for an autopsy and Deoxyribonucleic
acid (DNA) testing, but now cannot be found.

Panchorie's brother and only surviving next of kin, Joseph Rampaul, is seeking to have the bones found and the DNA tests carried out to prove the bones' identity to finally have a burial.

"This matter is almost three years old. We want to give my brother a burial. We want closure", he said.

Rampaul said his brother, who had no wife or children, lived at Point Coco, Granville.

He went missing on January 18, 2010. Weeks of searching by police
and villagers proved futile.

Until February 10, 2010 when a group of hunters and dogs discovered a heap of bones on the Panchorie's 30-acre agricultural estate. The skull was missing, and was never found.

Rampaul said the police officers came to the scene and took possession of the bones.

He said the next day, he was told that two police officers, PC Straker
and PC Kangoo of the Cedros Police Station, took the bones to the Forensic Science Centre. Rampaul said a blood sample was taken from him and submitted to the police

station to be taken to the centre for the DNA process. He was later told by police that the blood sample could not be found.

Four months later, accompanied by a police sargeant, he again gave another blood sample. He and the police sargeant personally delivered it to the Forensic Science Centre.

After more than two years without feedback from the centre, on August 12, 2012, Rampaul wrote to the State institution requesting an autopsy report.
On September 3, 2012, Rampaul received a letter from Emmanuel Walker on behalf of the Director of the Forensic Science Centre stating that his brother's remains were never received at the institution.

The letter stated "This is to inform you that our records show that the body of your brother Joseph Panchorie never came to the Trinidad and Tobago Forensic Science Centre. It would be in your best interest to check with Constable Slater of the Cedros Police Station who is alleged to have accompanied the body to the Trinidad and Tobago Forensic Science Centre".

Contacted on the matter, Forensic pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov, said Panchorie's case did not surprise him, since there needs to be a more organised system for samples requiring testing which are brought in by police officers.

"There are things scattered all over the office, all over the autopsy room", said Alexandrov. "and there is no follow up on the side of the police. What the police does is that they bring it and forget it".

Alexandrov said that the samples also needed to be treated with, to preserve vital pieces of evidence that lead to a person's identity.
"The bones should be cleaned. They might have dirt or pieces of clothing on them. They need to be washed. We don't have anything to handle the bones. Who is supposed to launder the pieces of clothing that are brought with the bones?" asked Alexandrov.

"I don't know I give up, because I have mentioned this for years" he said.

Rampaul said his brother owned some 30 acres of land, and he requires a death certificate and other documentation in ordered to be a beneficiary of the property.

"I used to clean the land. But I stopped because my brother was found without a head. So I don't go in there in case something happens to me too", said Rampaul.
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