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Dr. Bill Bass: Bones like "puzzle pieces" could crack Knight investigation

12:29 AM, Feb 10, 2012   |    comments
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  • Dr. Bill Bass sits in his Knoxville home giving a lesson on dental identification.
  • Pamela Knight
    

Investigators announced Thursday they've identified the remains of a woman found on January 19 as those of missing Knoxville mother Pamela Knight.

Knight's disappearance has left her family without answers since 2005.  But renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass says now that her bones have been recovered there's still a chance to tell her story.

"If whatever killed her left it's mark in bone," says Bass, "and you have those bones, then your chances are good."

The Loundon County Sheriff's Office recovered the remains wrapped in a comforter in a wooded area after men searching for scrap metal called it in.

After so much time outdoors, Bass explains investigators would only have found bones and possibly finger nails or hair.

But he says in East Tennessee the likelihood of coyotes or even bears disturbing the body and scattering the evidence is quite high.

He says in an investigation like this, it will be essential for detectives to expand the search beyond the immediate vicinity where the body was found.

In this instance, he says, the key to cracking the case will likely depend on how much of Knight's skeleton can be recovered.

"You look at every bone to see, was there bludgeon? Is there a gun shot wound? Or is there stab wound?" says Bass. "So the skeleton is a library of what's happened, what's happened to your body."

He cautions that with time all of the soft tissue on Knight's body would have decomposed, potentially taking with it evidence of  poisoning, stabbing, or strangulation.

Investigators say they identified the body using dental records.

"It's the most exact method of a positive identification that we have, other than DNA," says Bass.

During the initial investigation into Knight's disappearance, investigators named her husband, Paul Knight, as a person of interest.

Paul Knight is now serving time in federal prison on a firearms charge.

There are 206 bones in the human body, according to Bass, and he says each one is like a puzzle piece.

And in a case involving skeletal remains, he says, he hopes investigators are working with a full set.

"If you have all the bones, you'll be able to tell a lot."

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