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SECRETS OF THE DEAD Crime scene investigations meet historyFor Educators
Case File: Titanic's Ghosts
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CASE FILE: Titanic's Ghosts
THE SCENE: Halifax, Nova Scotia
LEAD DETECTIVES: Alan Ruffman, Dr. Ryan Parr

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Almost a hundred years later, investigators employ state-of-the-art DNA forensic techniques to name the still-unidentified victims of the Titanic disaster.

After midnight on April 15th, 1912, an urgent knock woke Swedish Titanic passenger Alma Paulson and her four young children. Alma and her children were told to wait in a sitting room below deck for further instructions, and when they finally made it topside, all 20 of the lifeboats were long gone. As the ship's tilt increased, it became more and more difficult to hold on. A friend tried to help by scooping up two-year-old Gosta, yet none of the Paulsons survived. Only Alma's body was identified. Six days later, Canadian rescue workers spotted the lifeless body of a fair-haired toddler floating near the site of the wreck. The sailors were so moved by the discovery that they purchased a small white casket and held a service for the little boy in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which the whole town attended. He was buried in the Fairview Lawn cemetery with other unidentified Titanic victims. In this episode of SECRETS OF THE DEAD, historian Alan Ruffman and a team of scientists headed by Dr. Ryan Parr, co-director of the paleo-DNA laboratory at Ontario's Lakehead Univeristy, use incredible technology to help provide answers -- and closure -- for relatives of Titanic victims whose remains were never identified.

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SECRETS OF THE DEAD is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York. © 2002 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.