Travis chats with Ellen Greytak, the director of Bioinformatics, of Parabon NanonLabs who describes the identification of “JB55” who had died in the 1800’s. Unlike other burials of that time in the area, his skull and femurs were neatly arranged in the shape of a skull and crossbones, leading archaeologists to conclude that the man had been a suspected “vampire” by his community.
In reality, JB was John Barber, who suffered from a chronic lung infection that was most likely tuberculosis, known at the time as consumption. During that time period, the disease was frequently lethal and symptoms included a bloody cough, jaundice (pale, yellowed skin), red and swollen eyes, and a general appearance of “wasting away.”
Using various DNA testing techniques and genetic genealogy work, scientists at AFDIL (Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory) were able to get a usable profile leading to identification and determine that this protocol could be used within forensic laboratories.