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DNA Testing Lays Romanov Murder Mystery to Rest
Date:3/11/2009

Bodies found near rest of Tsar Nicholas II's family identified as 2 missing children

WEDNESDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- An enduring mystery has been laid to rest with the DNA identification of the bodies of two children of the last Tsar of Russia.

The bones of the siblings, Tsarevich Alexei and a sister, were discovered in a grave outside Yekaterinburg in 2007. The remains of their father, Tsar Nicholas II, the Tsarina Alexandra and their three other daughters were found in 1991 about 70 meters away and were subsequently identified.

"The DNA evidence is strong, but if you if you look at the entire evidence, it's very convincing that this was, in fact, the Romanovs," said Michael Coble, lead author of a study published in the March 11 online issue of PLoS One and research section chief of the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.

Other evidence included three silver amalgam fillings on the crowns of two molars which undoubtedly belonged to an aristocrat.

The U.S. researchers worked with the Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation, which was treating the case like an unsolved homicide, Coble said.

"In many ways, it's not unlike a lot of missing person and unidentified cases where we have no bodies," said study co-author Anthony B. Falsetti, a forensic anthropologist with the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Over the years, skeptics have argued that the remains had not definitively been identified as those of the ill-fated Romanovs.

The Tsar, his entire family and four staff members were killed by a Bolshevik firing squad early on the morning of July 17, 1918.

Apparently, the executioners had attempted to destroy the bodies of Alexei and his sister (either Maria or Anastasia).

"The historical record is that when the Bolsheviks were disposing of the bodies, they took two of the remains and tried to cremate them to try to get rid of
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