DNA Detective Work

By Crystal Conde Premium


We all know the tragic fate of the Titanic, which sank in 1912, claiming the lives of more than 1,000 passengers. Among those passengers was 13-month-old Eino Viljami Panula of Finland. The infant died with his four brothers and mother en route to the United States, where they’d planned to join Eino’s father in Pennsylvania.

Days after the Titanic sank, crew members of the Canadian recovery ship Mackay-Bennett found Eino’s body. They were unable to identify him, but transported the child to Halifax, Nova Scotia, for burial. Eino’s grave marker at Fairview Lawn Cemetery read “Unknown Child” for nearly a century. But science has finally given the Unknown Child a name: DNA testing performed in October 2002 with a blood sample from one of Eino’s relatives confirmed the infant’s identity. Eino’s relatives traveled from Helsinki, Finland, last fall to visit the grave of their newfound family member. A documentary film crew captured the touching cemetery visit on camera, and PBS broadcast the story as part of its “Secrets of the Dead: Titanic’s Ghosts” program. You can read more about Eino’s story at <>.

From the April 2003 issue of Family Tree Magazine.