It wasn't until the late 1970's that their final burial
location was discovered by Alexander Avdonin in the Koptyaki Forest.
The remains were kept under the cold, wet Siberian ground for nearly
50 years; unattended, improperly preserved, and shattered from the
gruesome manner of their murders.
Their location was kept a secret since communism
still had a choking grip on Russia. When the Soviet Regime was finally
starting to dwindle in the late 1980's an article appeared by Geli
Ryabov, a crime writer in Russia. In many interviews and articles
Ryabov stated over and over that all eleven bodies were present,
hoping to put an end to all the claims, rumours, and legends of
survival that had been enveloped with this story. He proudly took
pictures holding a skull he claimed belonged to Alexei Nicolaievich.
In 1991 Boris Yeltsin finally approved the exhumation,
and a team of Russian Scientists had their first proper look at
the remains. To everyone's surprise, there was not 11 bodies, but
only 9, lending evidence to Yurovsky's highly questionable story
of burning two bodies.
In 1992 the Regional Government in Ekaterinburg,
the successors of the Ural Soviet, called in a team of American
Forensic Experts to see if the remains might be formally identified
by outside influences. Dr. Maples, from the C. A. Pound Human Identification
Laboratory at the University of Florida, lead the American team.
After looking over the remains and doing their own assessments,
the Americans concluded that the Tsarevich Alexei was missing, along
with his sister Anastasia, the youngest of the Grand Duchesses.
The Russian Professionals had agreed that Alexei
was missing; all of the male remains before them were mature and
could not have belonged to a boy almost 14. However, the Russians
had concluded that Maria, the third daughter, was the missing Grand
Duchess, and the start of the arguments between the Russian and
American Scientists began.
Body No. 1 was identified by the pelvis as
being a fully mature female. The dental work on the teeth was of
poor quality and the skull was missing the facial bones. Her ankles
showed signs of wear, the joints were extended, saying that this
woman spent many hours of her life crouched down. The Russians and
Americans both agreed this body belonged to Alexandra's maid, Anna
Body No. 2 was labeled as Dr. Botkin,
the Imperial Physician. The skeleton belonged to a large, mature
man with a distinctive flat, sloping forehead. Some of the torso
was still intact, held together by a grayish-white waxy substance
called adipocere. It forms when fatty tissue combines with water
after death. A bullet was recovered from the pelvic area and another
from the vertebra. The skull had a gunshot wound from a bullet that
entered the left forehead and exited through the right temple. There
were only a few teeth in the lower jaw, and no upper teeth. Dr.
Botkin wore a dental plate, which had been found by Sokolov.
No. 4's height and age attributed these remains to the Emperor
Nicholas. The hip bones showed signs of wear and deformation from
continuous horseback riding. The middle of the skull was missing.
The forehead was wide and sloping with a jutting brow, just like
Body No. 7 was that of a middle aged woman
whose ribs showed signs of possible bayonet damage. She proudly
displayed beautiful and elaborate dental work: 2 crowns in the lower
jaw were made of platinum, the other crowns were made of porcelain.
There were also gold fillings. The Scientists named this one the
Body No. 8, a middle aged male, was named
the Imperial Cook, Kharitonov, 48 years old at his death. His remains
were the most fragmentary of the nine because he was thrown into
the mine shaft first.
Body No. 9 was said to belong to Nickys
valet, Trupp. He was 61 years old at death. He laid under Nicky
in the grave, and as decomposition proceeded, Nicky and Trupps
bones became commingled. Maples believed that in order to tell the
bones apart a DNA test would have to be done on each fragment.
This leaves three sets of remains: Body Nos. 3,
5 & 6, all female. Each one of them were estimated to be
in her late teens to early twenties at the time of death. They shared
the same style of dental work, and each had amalgam fillings in
her teeth. Another common trait was a protruding bone structure
in the back of the head, called wormian bones. This is found in
only 5-6% of the population and is a genetic trait passed down maternally.
Body No. 7 shared this trait as well, and from this evidence
the scientists concluded that three of the four Grand Duchesses
laid before them.
No. 3 belonged to Olga Nicolaievna, she was the eldest of the
sisters and the only one of the girls' remains which had become
fully developed. Her sacrum (the back of the pelvic rim) was fully
mature and she had impacted roots on her third molars. The skull
showed a prominent forehead, like Olga's, and also an entry wound
in the left jaw. The bullet had gone through the palate behind her
nose, and exited through the right front of her skull. The top of
the skull had been etched with acid. The leg bones had been sawed
in half before Maples got to them, so he extrapolated her height
at 64.9 inches, or just under 5 feet 5 inches, by using the arm
Highly encouraged by a positive identification on
the eldest's remains, the scientists set to figure out the other
two; a task which proved to be most difficult.
The Americans concluded Body No. 5 was the
youngest of the remains, yet extrapolated her height at 67.5 inches,
or 5 foot 7½ inches. Maples said this was too tall to be Anastasia,
therefore he attributed these remains to Maria Nicolaievna. The
Russians however believed these remains were tall enough to be Tatiana.
According to the Americans Body No. 6's development
was placed between Nos. 3 & 5. They labeled her as Tatiana Nicolaievna.
The Russians however, labeled this body as Anastasia.