The 16th Annual Dick Smyser Community Lecture Series continues on Thursday, July 18, and it will feature Dr. Mike Tabor, chief forensic odontologist for the Tennessee State Medical Examiner’s Office. He will discuss “Forensic Identification at Ground Zero and Other High Profile Cases.”
The event is sponsored by Friends of ORNL. It’s free of charge and will be held at the American Museum of Science and Energy at 300 S. Tulane Ave. in Oak Ridge.
The lecture by Tabor starts at 6 p.m., and a reception and a book signing starts at 7 p.m. (snacks will be served). This talk should be of interest to the general public.
Here is more information from a press release:
Dr. Tabor, has written a forensic novel, “Walk of Death,” based upon a cold case murder that took over a decade to solve using these dental identification principles. In his lecture, Dr. Tabor will help you understand through his book, the science of forensic dentistry, and the vital role it played in bringing these killers to justice. A portion of the novel takes place at Knoxville’s Body Farm with Dr. Bill Bass. The author will be available to sign copies of this book following the lecture.
Forensic identification through fingerprint, DNA, or dental record comparison is a branch of forensic science that has played a significant role in crime solving in the past three decades. Fingerprints, long thought to be unquestionably accurate, are lost quickly, especially as human tissue decomposes. DNA, now the “gold standard” in identity determination, is often expensive and time-consuming.
Dental records comparison, however, has one advantage over DNA and fingerprint study. Human teeth are virtually indestructible. They are not affected by heat, moisture or time, all of which are deleterious to fingerprint and DNA comparison. Also, in many cases, human bite marks are useful in measuring the likelihood that an attacker’s teeth did or did not leave the patterned injury left on the victim. In the late 1970s case of State of Florida vs. Ted Bundy, bite mark evidence was the most important clue tying Bundy to one of his victims. Following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, dental identification was the chief contributing aspect of forensic science that allowed approximately 1,000 individuals out of the nearly 3,000 that died to be identified.
Tabor was born and raised in Oak Ridge, and he is a graduate of Oak Ridge High School Class of 1967. He was raised in Emory Valley with his brother Tom, and is the son of Gay and Bill Tabor. Bill was employed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for more than 25 years. After graduating from Carson-Newman College, Tabor earned his DDS degree from University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in Memphis. Following two years of service in the U.S. Army Dental Corps, he began a private dental practice in Hendersonville and Nashville, which he still maintains today.
In 1983, he became chief forensic odontologist of the State of Tennessee Office of the Medical Examiner, an office he still holds. Since that time, Tabor has testified in murder trials in three different states, where identification or bite mark analysis has been key evidence in the criminal proceedings. In 2001, Tabor assisted the New York Medical Examiner’s office on two different occasions in the identification of the victims of the World Trade center terrorist attacks.
Tabor has served as president of the Tennessee Board of Dentistry, the state’s licensing board, under governors McWherter, Bredesen, and Haslam. He is also past president of the American Board of Forensic Odontology and past section chair for the American Academy of Forensic Science. He holds the mastership award of the Academy of General Dentistry, and in 2004, he was voted by his peers as Tennessee AGD “Dentist of the Year.” He lectures nationally and internationally on the science of forensic identification.
The Friends of ORNL, or FORNL, is an organization formed to facilitate and maintain a beneficial association of those who have an interest in ORNL. FORNL provides a mechanism for members to keep in touch with co-workers, retirees, and current ORNL activities by providing the community at large with presentations and events.
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