The government says it is intensifying efforts to identify bodies that are not claimed by family members.
Last week, Ecuador’s National Council of Violent Deaths (DINASED) notified the mother of Kerly Gabriela Mendoza that her daughter’s body had been found in a University of Guayaquil medical school. Kerly had been missing since 2011 and was 18 at the time of her disappearance. According to DINASED, the body was identified from a mole on the foot.
According the official record, Kerly’s body was found October 2, 2011, on a road between Duran with Yaguachi. According to the autopsy, she was hit by a vehicle.
DINSASED says it is checking medical schools throughout Ecuador to see if other unidentified bodies match the DNA of missing persons.
In Guayaquil and other major cities in Ecuador, unclaimed bodies in the public morgue are donated to medical schools if they are not claimed within six months.
Forensic anthropologist Michael Santorum, who works with DINASED, said there are shortcomings in the process of identifying bodies in Ecuador. “There is a protocol to collect and provide data that is not always followed,” he said. “This process will never be perfect but we are making changes to improve it. With DNA testing, there are many tools for providing identification,” he added.
According to DINASED records, two unidentified bodies believed to be those of North Americans, were donated to Cuenca medical schools in 2013 and 2014. The U.S. and Canadian embassies could not confirm the identities or nationalities of the diseased.