Check out President Peter Loomis’s fourth quarter message here.
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Greetings and Happy New Year,
And as the end of my year as ABFO President approaches, I would like to thank those who have contributed to our organization and helped me enjoy any modicum of success that I may have attained. The Executive Committee members, all of whom provided valuable counsel, work, and welcomed support throughout 2014 have always been ready and willing to assist with any request and I am lucky to have them in my corner.
Also, I thank those who served as a chairperson or as a member of a committee with special kudos to the CE, Bitemark, Age Estimation, Strategic Planning, and the Bitemark Proficiency Examination Development Committees for their very excellent work and significant contributions to the ABFO in 2014.
This year’s local arrangements team of Jan Westberry and Ken Cohrn have done a yeoman’s job in procuring the venues and arranging for the speaker at the Sunday evening Diplomate’s dinner and for the past President’s luncheon. They spent a great deal of effort in this endeavor and deserve a big thanks from all of us. If you have not yet signed up for the dinner at the ABFO website, please do so now as the deadline of January 30th is drawing nigh. For additional information or help in making your reservation, please contact Paula Brumit at email@example.com or me. Don’t make us come get you!
The AAFS will have all of its sessions and venues listed electronically in the “Guidebook” application again this year. For smart phone and tablet users using iOS or Android platforms, it can be very helpful in negotiating the labyrinth of locations and times for all the AAFS events. At the moment, the event is not yet downloadable in the Guidebook app, but will be in early February so keep checking for that.
I urge you to attend the Diplomate’s meeting on Monday night, February 16th at 8 PM. Along with the committee and business reports, we will be honoring Dr. Skip Sperber with Diplomate Emeritus status, Mr. Steve Kinney with the Haskell Pitluck Award, Dr. McGivney for his generosity in donating WinID, and outgoing Ethics and CE Committee members, Dr. Senn and Dr. Metcalf. Besides the elections for Treasurer, BOD members, and CE and Ethics Committees, we will be discussing and voting on five motions that were sent to you for consideration back in October. If you have any questions about the meeting, please contact Dr. Weems or me.
One of our esteemed members, Dr. David Sweet was recently awarded the Canadian Medallion for Distinguished Service. This, the highest award that the Canadian military can bestow to a civilian, was presented in a ceremony on November 28, 2014 by the Chief of The Canadian Defence Staff, General Thomas Lawson. This is a tremendous honor for Dr. Sweet and so richly deserved. As many of you may recall, Dr. Sweet has previously been honored with the Order of Canada in 2008 for exceptional service and contribution to Canada. The ABFO is extremely proud of Dr. Sweet and shares in the thanks of many for his contributions to forensic dentistry.
Another respected member, Dr. James Wood recently was elected to the California State
Assembly representing the nearly 500,000 residents of the 2nd Assembly District. In the vote held on November 4, 2014 Jim was elected by a 64% to 36% margin over his opponent. He was previously the mayor of Healdsburg, CA and is now well ensconced in his role as an Assemblyman at the state capitol in Sacramento. It is a privilege to know Jim, and I am very proud of his election and the platform on which he ran.
The NIST Crime Scene/Death Investigation Scientific Area Committee, Odontology Subcommittee named fourteen initial members in October 2014. Dr. Bob Barsley is the Chairman of the Subcommittee and there were eight other ABFO Diplomates appointed: Dr. Larry Dobrin, Dr. Adam Freeman, Dr. Jim Lewis, Dr. Peter Loomis, Dr. Jim McGivney, Dr. Roger Metcalf, Dr. David Senn and Dr. Frank Wright. An additional six members round out the membership to this subcommittee which will conduct its first series of live meetings this month in Oklahoma.
Also within the NIST Crime Scene/Death Investigation Scientific Area Committee is the Disaster Victim Identification Subcommittee, which appointed ABFO Diplomate Dr. Allan Warnick as a member. He was one of two forensic dentists named to this seventeen member subcommittee.
Having ten ABFO Diplomates serve on these very important subcommittees, which will focus on establishing standards and guidelines for forensic odontology and management of mass fatality incidents, is outstanding and proof of the contributions our members offer and the respect they and the ABFO command in the realm of forensic sciences.
I wish you all a healthy, happy and successful New Year and hope you share in the joy I have for the promise of 2015. I look forward to seeing you next month.
Peter W. Loomis, DDS
President – American Board of Forensic Odontology
Dr. Jim McGivney has donated the WinID3 software to the ABFO! Dr. McGivney’s outstanding and extremely generous offer to donate the ownership and source code of WinID3 to the ABFO was approved unanimously by the ABFO Board of Directors in July, 2014. This dental identification software is used worldwide, in particular by many ME/C offices throughout the U.S. and the NDMS-DMORT teams. The ABFO has formed the WinID Subcommittee within the Dental ID Committee to distribute, maintain and update the program.
ABFO Past President, (and past AAFS President), Dr. Bob Barsley was recently appointed as one of 17 members of the newly formed NIST Crime Scene/Death Investigation Scientific Area Committee (SAC). This is the Committee that now includes the Odontology Subcommittee.
The ABFO Executive Committee conducted its mid-year meeting this past weekend, and thanks to all of the Committee chairpersons and members who have worked so assiduously on their tasks and reports, a great deal was accomplished.
The two workshops that the ABFO will be conducting in Orlando have had an extraordinary number of applicants. The Bitemark Workshop, on Sunday 2/15/2015 and the Dental Age Estimation Workshop, on 2/21/2015. Both workshops will be conducting pre-workshop, online webinars with presentations by Committee members. By utilizing this format the students may interact with the presenters and each other and the Committees can provide the salient subject matter prior to the workshop.
The New York Times printed an article on 9/16/2014 faulting “bite-mark forensics”, (link below*). It highlights an appeal recently filed by the Mississippi Innocence Project with the Mississippi Supreme Court, of 22 year old case in which bite mark testimony was provided by Dr. Michael West. Like every news article, there are misstatements and some erroneous information is given. In particular, the author parrots the flawed Innocence Project publicity that 17 people previously convicted based on “expert bite matches” have been exonerated by DNA evidence. The IP often uses the number of 24 so it least the number is down a bit, but in actuality the number is 10, and of these, five of the opinions were not “match” as the article mentions but a lesser opinion. While any number of wrongful convictions is unacceptable and we are all cognizant of the fact that some terrible mistakes have been made in the past, we cannot ignore the fact that hundreds of positive outcomes have occurred throughout the country wherein bite mark evidence played a crucial role in the judicial process to assist the triers of fact. The ABFO continues to make changes to ensure accuracy of expert opinions. The ABFO has developed the Bitemark Analysis and Comparison Decision Tree, is continuing to develop a bitemark proficiency examination, has significantly raised the bitemark and other requirements for examination eligibility for new candidates, requires recertifying diplomates to take a recertification examination and has revised the standards, guidelines and terminology for bitemark analysis.
Peter W. Loomis, DDS, D-ABFO
President – American Board of Forensic Odontology
News of the NIST Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) Odontology Subcommittee:
As most of you know, the Forensic Science Standards Board (FSSB) is being created to coordinate development of standards and guidelines to improve quality and consistency of forensic science practices. The FSSB has five Scientific Area Committees (SACs) focused upon various aspects of forensics. Each SAC has subcommittees devoted to specific forensic disciplines. See:
Present and past members of the ABFO Executive Committee petitioned NIST to include odontology as a Subcommittee under one or more of the SACs and as a result, NIST recognizing the importance of odontology, has created a Subcommittee for that area.
Applications for membership on this Odontology Subcommittee have been submitted and are now in review for membership in the Subcommittee – limited to 20 persons. It is expected that the Subcommittee will start its activities late in 2014. Many ABFO Diplomates have applied to serve on this Subcommittee.
In order to help prepare for the establishment of this Subcommittee, NIST held a teleconference on May 8. Representatives of several major professional organizations, universities, medical examiner offices and standards/standards‐committee‐on‐dentalinformatics government agencies participated in the meeting. The ABFO was well represented by Lowell Levine, Jack Kinney, Jim McGivney, Bob Barsley, David Senn, Warren Tewes and myself. The group decided that it would be beneficial to establish a webpage for news about the upcoming Odontology Subcommittee and to generate a list of resources to provide the Subcommittee.
This webpage for the list of resources has been established and includes an indexed, bookmarked Word document of all of the ABFO Standards and Guidelines that I prepared to be easily accessible. This list of resources with the ABFO Standards and Guidelines can be accessed at http://www.nist.gov/itl/iad/ig/odontology.cfm
In April I read the following AP report on the identification process in the South Korean Ferry sinking disaster (of April 16), and I was surprised that visual IDs were done at all in this situation where many of the victims were the same age and ethnicity. “JUNG‐YOON CHOI of Associated Press SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The South Korean government conceded that some bodies have been misidentified and announced changes to prevent such mistakes from happening again. There have been several reports in South Korean media this week of bodies going to the wrong families, with the error sometimes caught only after the remains were taken to a funeral home. An “action plan” released by the government‐wide emergency task force acknowledged that “there have been cases where the victims were wrongly transferred.” Remains will be transferred to families when there is a match using DNA testing or fingerprint or dental records, the task force said. The transfer will be temporary when a body is matched though identification or physical description, and authorities will wait for more authoritative evidence before making the transfer permanent.”
During such a tragic recovery event and considering the highly charged emotions of families, authorities and rescue personnel it is imperative that accurate biometric identifications be done utilizing fingerprints, dental, medical and DNA as opposed to visual, personal effects and presumptive identification. It is a tribute to the South Korean Government that this was recognized and addressed to prevent further misidentifications.
New Zealand and the international forensic odontology community recently lost a stellar forensic researcher, scientist, and practitioner of forensic odontology. Dr. Jules Kieser passed away on June 10, 2014 and was a professor at the University of Otago, Faculty of Dentistry in Dunedin, New Zealand and Head of the Department of Oral Biology. Dr. Kieser had a wide range of professional interests and has published more than 190 peer reviewed articles in the fields of craniofacial biomechanics, forensic odontology, traumatology, taphonomy, ballistics and education research. He will be sorely missed by all those that knew him and those who have benefited from his life’s work.
The ABFO Executive Committee is dealing with a number of interesting issues and will conduct its mid year meeting, September in Albuquerque, NM. It is likely we will have a busy agenda for the annual Diplomate’s meeting in Orlando and I encourage everyone to attend if possible.
As always, if you have any concerns or comments, please call or write to me.
It is an honor and privilege for me to serve as ABFO President for 2014. Many years ago,
during my first forensic meetings, so many ABFO members impressed me with their
integrity, intellect, knowledge and passion. I knew then that I wanted to become associated
with such an organization and was lucky enough to attain that goal. I thank all those that
encouraged and mentored me, whether they knew it at the time or not and I am humbled
to serve the President of the ABFO for 2014‐2015.
I thank Dr. Greg Golden, our immediate Past President for keeping us moving forward
during his tenure, the members of the Executive Committee, Board of Directors and the
Standing and Ad Hoc Committee members for their invaluable contributions to the ABFO.
The loss of four of our members during the past year has been a sad burden to bear. The
passing of two of the founding members of the ABFO, Dr. Ed Woolridge and Dr. Jerry Vale
along with Dr. Bill Morlang and Dr. Sheila Dashkow will leave a gap in the ABFO that cannot
be filled. Each contributed significantly to the field of forensic odontology and their
presence is missed by all.
Dr. Paul Stimson was honored as Diplomate Emeritus of the ABFO. He has served this
organization with exemplary leadership in many capacities and his contributions to forensic
odontology are unparalleled. As an educator, odontology clinician, author of textbooks,
researcher, consultant and with the stellar service he has provided to the ABFO and ASFO,
this honor is well deserved. Congratulations Dr. Stimson!
The Haskell M. Pitluck Award was given to Ms. Candy Ross. Candy is the Director of Industry
and Professional Relations, Dental Technologies NA for the KaVo Kerr Group. She has been
an ardent supporter of the ABFO and forensic odontology for many years, providing
financial support and the technology of DEXIS digital dental radiography to the ABFO ID
The AAFS Odontology Section recognized two ABFO Diplomates with awards. Dr. Jim
McGivney was the recipient of the AAFS Odontology Section’s Lester Luntz award and Dr.
Bob Barsley received Reidar Sognnaes Award for Excellence in Forensic Dentistry. These
two gentlemen are more than worthy of these accolades and it is with deep gratitude for
their service and accomplishments that the ABFO salutes them as well.
We gained one new Diplomate from the examination process which culminated on 2/16.
Congratulations to Dr. Robin Scheper who was awarded certificate # 162.
With the retirement of seven Diplomates this past year the number of active Diplomates
now stands at 95. Drs. David Averill, Rodney Brown, Reed Holt, Harry Mincer, Gerald
Reynolds, David Sipes and Paul Stimson have been long standing Diplomates and I thank
them for their contributions and service to the ABFO for so many years.
The Dental Identification Workshop was conducted on Sunday 2/16 by Dr. Rick Cardoza and
his highly motivated and capable team of the ID Workshop Committee. 18 people
participated in this successful didactic and hands‐on workshop and comments from many of
the participants were superlative, in describing the organization, content and quality of it.
Next year we will meet in Orlando and are fortunate to have Dr. Jan Westberry and Dr. Ken
Cohrn handling the local arrangements. The ABFO will be offering the Bitemark Workshop
on 2/15/2015 and the Dental Age Estimation Workshop on 2/21/2015. Application for
enrollment and additional information on these workshops will be available
on 3/17/2014 at the ABFO and the ASFO websites. Along with these workshops, the Public
Relations Committee, spearheaded by Dr. Rick Cardoza, will conduct a one day, fast paced
seminar covering all aspects of forensic odontology. This introductory course on the subject
will be promoted to Florida dentists, hygienists and auxiliaries.
The Image Series IV Committee consisting of Dr. Paula Brumit and Dr. Jaqueline Reid has
been working very hard to complete a significant update and extensive changes to the
previous Image Series versions. The new version will have a different format and more
extensive target market and be downloadable from the ABFO website this summer.
Please remember that the Bitemark and Age Estimation Committees continue to seek cases
to include in their respective repositories. If you have a good adjudicated forensic case that
could be useful for potential test candidates to gain credit toward eligibility, please forward
it to the Chairperson of the respective committee. Dr. Adam Freeman is the Chairman of
the Bitemark Committee and Dr. Jim Lewis is Chairman of the Dental Age Estimation
There are many initiatives afoot this year for the ABFO. Including, significant changes to the
format of the workshops, the evolution and charge to the Bitemark Proficiency Examination
Development Committee in concert with ORA to develop a proficiency examination, efforts
to have forensic odontology represented as a Subcommittee of a Strategic Area Committee
(SAC), under the NIST OSAC, revision of the bitemark flowchart, initiation of the ABFO
online store for clothing, hats, cups, etc. and investigating ABFO accreditation through
As always, the Executive Committee and Board of Directors serves you, the Diplomates.
Let’s keep the lines of communication open to enhance the ABFO experience through our
combined efforts, and make this a productive and successful year. My intent is to update
this web page on a quarterly basis as Dr. Golden started last year and provide ongoing
information on current events happening within our organization as they occur.
Peter Loomis, DDS