Defense Department starts new DNA test to identify Sacramento native killed in WWII

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The “most likely” match to the remains of Sacramento native PFC Louie Faria will undergo a newer, more sophisticated method of DNA testing called Next Generation Sequencing.

Faria was killed in WWII in 1943 in the Battle of Tarawa and his remains have been unaccounted for every since.

According to research conducted by the Chief Rick Stone and Family Charitable Foundation, Faria’s remains are a “most likely” match to those labeled X-85B, which are currently located at the Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency lab in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In a letter dated November 15, 2019, the Department of Defense provided an update on Faria’s case to Brandie Hannon, Faria’s great-niece.

The DOD told Hannon the remains labeled X-85B are “missing key skeletal elements, so a dental or clavicle match is not possible.” Additionally, the DOD said when those remains were disinterred in 2017, they “were treated with a formaldehyde-based preservative that ultimately degraded the DNA within the remains, thus making it difficult to extract a usable sequence to compare against the reference sample submitted by PFC Faria’s family.”

Initial DNA testing yielded no results with traditional methods, so now those remains will undergo Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), which the DOD said has proved successful in similar cases.

Sacramento State Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Andrew Reams told FOX40 that NGS is a more “sophisticated, powerful and sensitive” method of DNA testing that allows for more degraded DNA samples to be analyzed, screening the entire genome in a more thorough manner than traditional methods.

According to Rick Stone of the Chief Rick Stone and Family Charitable Foundation, NGS “is actually a whole range of tests that basically do one thing: when there is not enough DNA to test in the original sample, the sequencing allows the lab to grow their own DNA so there is enough to test.”

Stone said NGS has been in use in law enforcement for over 10 years.

Stone also noted that in addition to the remains labeled X-85B, Faria is a possible match to those labeled X-104A, X-6 and X-84. Stone said due to the interchange of bones between X-83, X-84, and X-85B in 1946, all of these unknowns should be considered a possible match to Faria.

Letter provided by Brandie Hannon

Cassandra Webb filed this report.

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