Forensic experts ID mummified remains

Posted: Sunday, August 17, 2008

ANCHORAGE - The mummified remains of a passenger on a plane that crashed in Alaska in 1948 have been identified.

The mummified hand and forearm belonged to Francis Joseph Van Zandt, a merchant marine from Roanoke, Va., who was 36 years old when he died.

Van Zandt was killed when the Northwest Airlines plane he was on slammed into Mount Sanford. The plane was rumored to hold 27 bars of gold.

While no gold has been found, the identification took some scientific sleuthing. Forensic experts used a newly-developed re-hydrating solution to restore the hand's fingerprints.

They said it is the oldest identification of fingerprints using post-mortem remains.

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