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Cross Bones Part 21

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There was a long, long pause. Then, "I want you to pull that molar and one or two others."

"Why?"

"For DNA testing. I also want you to cut femoral segments. Is that a problem?"

"If Ferris and Lerner are right, these bones are almost two thousand years old."

"It's possible to extract mitochondrial DNA from old bone, right?"

"It's possible. But then what? Forensic a.n.a.lysis is based on comparison, either to the victim's own DNA, or to that of a family member. If mtDNA could could be extracted and amplified, to what would you compare it?" be extracted and amplified, to what would you compare it?"

Long Jake pause. Then, "New finds are unearthed every day. You never know what will turn up, or what will be relevant down the road. And I've got grant money specifically earmarked for this type of thing. What about race?"

"What about it?"

"Wasn't there a recent case where profilers said the perp was white and some lab predicted, correctly, that the guy was black?"

"You're thinking of the Derrick Todd Lee case in Baton Rouge. That test relies on nuclear DNA."

"Can't nuclear DNA be extracted from ancient bone?"

"Some claim to have done it. There's a growing field of study on aDNA."

"aDNA?"

"Ancient DNA. Folks at Cambridge and Oxford are working on getting nuclear DNA from archaeological material. Here in Canada, there's an inst.i.tute called the Paleo-DNA Laboratory in Thunder Bay."

I remembered a recent article in The American Journal of Human Genetics. The American Journal of Human Genetics.

"A French group reported on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from skeletons dug from a two-thousand-year-old necropolis in Mongolia. But Jake, even if you could get nuclear DNA, racial prediction is very limited."

"How limited?"

"There's a Florida company that offers a test that translates genetic markers into a prediction of likely racial mix. They claim they can predict the percentage present of Indo-European, Native American, East Asian, and sub-Saharan-African ancestry."

"That's it?"

"For now."

"Not much help with the bones of an ancient Palestinian."

"No," I agreed.

I listened to another of Jake's pauses.

"But either mito or nuclear DNA a.n.a.lysis might show whether that odd molar belonged to a different individual."

"It's a long shot."

"But it might."

"It might," I conceded.

"Who does these tests?"

I told him.

"Visit your dentist, see what he says about the odd tooth. Then take samples. And cut enough bone for radiocarbon a.n.a.lysis, too."

"The coroner's not going to foot the bill," I said.

"I'll use my grant money."

I was zipping my parka when Ryan came through the door.

What he told me sent my thoughts winging a one-eighty.

14.

"MIRIAM F FERRIS IS RELATED TO H HERSHEL K KAPLAN?"

"Affinal tie."

"Affinal." I was having trouble wrapping my mind around Ryan's statement.

"It's a kinship term. Means linked by marriage." Ryan gave his most boyish smile. "I use it in tribute to your anthropological past."

I sketched a mental diagram of what he'd just said. "Miriam Ferris was married to Hershel Kaplan's wife's brother?"

"Former wife."

"But Miriam denied knowing Kaplan," I said.

"We asked about Kessler."

"One of Kaplan's known aliases."

"Confusing, isn't it?"

"If Kaplan was family, Miriam would have known him."

"Presumably," Ryan agreed.

"She'd have recognized him at the autopsy."

"If she'd seen him."

"You really think Kaplan is Kessler?" I asked.

"You were reasonably convinced by the mug shot." Ryan was looking at the box on my table.

"Is Kaplan's wife's brother still alive?"

"Former wife. Before the divorce, Miriam's husband would have been Kaplan's brother-in-law. Anyway, the guy died of diabetic complications in ninety-five."

"So Kaplan and his wife split, leaving him single. And Miriam's husband died, leaving her single."

"Yep. Ferris's murder was a return engagement for the grieving widow. You'd think she'd be better at it. What's in the box?"

"I'm taking Morissonneau's skull to Bergeron for an opinion on the teeth."

"His patients should love that."

Ryan pulled his lips back in a ghoulish grimace.

I rolled my eyes.

"When did Miriam tie the knot with Avram Ferris?" I asked.

"Ninety-seven."

"Pretty quick after her first husband's death."

"Some widows bounce right back."

Miriam didn't strike me as a bouncer, but I kept the thought to myself.

"How long has Kaplan been divorced?" I asked.

"The missus bailed during his second stretch at Bordeaux."

"Ouch."

"I checked Kaplan's prison sheet. The guy caused no problems, appeared sincere in his desire to improve himself, got cut loose at half time."

"So he has a parole officer?"

"Michael Hinson."

"When was he released?"

"Two thousand and one. According to Hinson, Kaplan's been a legit businessman ever since."

"What business?"

"Guppies and guinea pigs."

I raised a quizzical brow.

"Centre d'animaux Kaplan."

"He has a pet store?"

Ryan nodded. "Owns the building. Guppies down, Kaplan up."

"Does he still meet with the PO?"

"Monthly. Been a model parolee."

"Admirable."

"Never missed a check-in until two weeks ago. He failed to call or show up on February fourteenth."

"The Monday following the weekend Avram Ferris was shot."

"Want to pet the Pomeranians?"

"Bergeron's expecting me at one."

Ryan looked at his watch.

"Meet you downstairs at two-thirty?"

"I'll bring a Milk-Bone."

Bergeron's office is at Place Ville-Marie, a mult.i.towered high-rise at the corner of Rene-Levesque and University. He shares it with a partner named Bougainvillier. I'd never met Bougainvillier, but I always pictured a flowering vine with gla.s.ses.

After driving to the centre-ville, I parked underground, and rode an elevator to the seventeenth floor.

Bergeron was with a patient, so I settled in the waiting room, box at my feet. A large woman sat opposite, thumbing a copy of Chatelaine. Chatelaine. When I reached for a magazine, she looked up and smiled. She needed a dentist. When I reached for a magazine, she looked up and smiled. She needed a dentist.

Five minutes after my arrival, the Chatelaine Chatelaine woman was invited into the inner sanctum. I suspected she'd be there awhile. woman was invited into the inner sanctum. I suspected she'd be there awhile.

Moments later a man exited the inner sanctum. His jacket was off and his tie was loose. He was moving fast.

Bergeron appeared and led me to his office. A high whining emanated from down the hall. I pictured the Chatelaine Chatelaine woman. I pictured the plant in woman. I pictured the plant in The Little Shop of Horrors. The Little Shop of Horrors.

As I unpacked my box, I sketched some background for Bergeron. He listened, bony arms crossed on bony chest, white frizz luminous in the window light.

When I'd finished Bergeron took the skull and examined the upper teeth. He examined the jaw. He articulated the jaw and studied the molar occlusion.

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Cross Bones Part 21 summary

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