Mary Manhein

Distinguished Lecturer Series Presents: Mary H. Manhein

Mary Manhein pictureKnown in law enforcement circles as “The Bone Lady,” physical anthropologist and bioarchaeologist Mary H. Manhein has handled more than 1,000 forensic cases during her 27 years of experience in field recovery and analysis of human skeletal remains.

On any given day she might be found in a classroom, a laboratory, or in the middle of a muddy field assisting investigators as they try to sort out the circumstances of a possible crime.

She is the director of the Louisiana State University Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services (FACES) Lab, director of the Louisiana Repository for Unidentified and Missing Persons Information Program, and Professional in Residence in Anthropology in LSU’s Department of Geography and Anthropology.

She has also served as Deputy Coroner for East Baton Rouge Parish since 1993 and is certified as an Expert Witness in the Field of Forensic Anthropology for Texas and Louisiana.

Mary Manhein is a Fellow in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the author of two non-fiction books, The Bone Lady: Life as a Forensic Anthropologist and Trail of Bones: More Cases from the Files of a Forensic Anthropologist. Her first novel, Softly, They Die, is currently in review.

A member of the National Disaster Medical System DMORT (Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team), Region VI, Manhein assisted with recovery of the astronauts from the Columbia disaster and with cemetery recovery work during Hurricane Ike. She also participated in field retrieval and analysis of forensic cases involving major disasters at several oil refineries, and she has been called upon many times to serve as a consultant or investigator in the excavation of historic burial sites.

Manhein is the recipient of the 2006 and 2007 College Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Awards at LSU and the author and presenter of numerous papers and reports on such topics as decomposition rates of deliberate burials, invivo facial tissue depth measurements for children and adults, the application of geographic information systems and spatial analysis to assess dumped and scattered human remains, and suicide by blasting caps.

She has appeared on various national network programs including America’s Most Wanted, Discovery Health, and New Detectives and has been featured in special reports by CSNBC news and MSNBC news.

Mary Manhein has been a guest on more than 25 appearances of Fox TV’s “Missing” program in which clay facial reconstructions completed in her laboratory on unidentified persons were publicized over regional television.  In 2004, Manhein’s work on Precious Doe was featured on A&E network’s “Cold Case Files.”

FACES lab research associate  Helen Mathews, left, and Director Mary Manhein hope to create a comprehensive database.
By Tim J. Mueller for USA Today

FACES lab research associate Helen Matthews, left and Director Mary H. Manhein.


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