A forensic genomics approach for the identification of sister marija crucifiksa kozulić

Charla Marshall, Kimberly Sturk-Andreaggi, Erin M. Gorden, Jennifer Daniels-Higginbotham, Sidney Gaston Sanchez, Željana Bašić, Ivana Kružić, Šimun Anđelinović, Alan Bosnar, Miran Čoklo, Anja Petaros, Timothy P. McMahon, Dragan Primorac, Mitchell M. Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Sister Marija Krucifiksa Kozulić (1852–1922) was a Croatian nun who is in consideration for beatification by the Vatican, which is facilitated by the identification of her 20th-century remains. Sister Marija was buried in a tomb in Rijeka, Croatia, along with other nuns including her biological sister, Tereza Kozulić (1861–1933). When the remains were exhumed in 2011, they were found in a deteriorated state and commingled with several other sets of remains. Thus, mitochondrial genome sequencing of the long bones was performed to sort the remains by mitochondrial haplotype. Two similar but unique haplotypes belonging to haplogroup H1bu were identified, and samples from these bones were subjected to autosomal short tandem repeat (STR) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) sequencing. Although only partial profiles were obtained, the data were sufficient for kinship analysis with the profile of a paternal niece of Sister Marija (Fides Kozulić). The data indicate that it is 574,195-fold more likely that the two sets of skeletal remains represent 2nd-degree relatives of Fides than sisters who are unrelated to Fides. Although it is impossible to discern which set of remains belongs to Marija and which belongs to Tereza, forensic genomics methods have enabled identification of the sisters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number938
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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