07.14.16
Melissa del Bosque + Jen Reel | Observer Quarterly

The Things They Left Behind

When migrants die in South Texas, the objects they leave behind hold clues to their identities. In the fall of 2013, Texas Observer reporter Melissa del Bosque and photographer Jennifer Reel visited Baylor University’s forensics lab, one of several Texas labs that handles the remains of unidentified migrants who die in Texas after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The forensic anthropologists at Baylor and elsewhere perform skeletal analysis and/or DNA testing in the hopes of gleaning enough information to identify people and return them to their families.

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CASE 0408 
The remains are presumed to be male, aged 35 to 56, and were found on November 3, 2009, on the Coldwell Ranch. They were exhumed from the Sacred Heart Cemetery on May 26, 2013. The ring was sewn into the waistband of a pair of pants, and a brand tag was still attached to the stuffed lion. 
 

CASE 0462 
The remains are presumed to be male, aged 30 to 50, and were found January 7, 2013, on the Laborcitas Creek Ranch about 2 miles from the nearest road. The ball of the femur shows severe damage, possibly related to an untreated hip break or fracture. The Baylor lab team noted that walking with this injury would be extremely painful.

CASE 0354 
Homemade slings, used to carry water, are commonly found on the ranches traversed by migrants. 

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