In 1912, there was no such thing as DNA testing to identify the bodies that were recovered after the sinking of the Titanic. When the test was made available, researchers got to work utilizing modern scientific advances to determine the identity of one victim in particular, an infant boy known as “the unknown child.” This young corpse became a symbol of all of the children who died when the Titanic sunk on April 15, 1912 on its was to New York City.

In 2002, Canadian researchers in Halifax, Nova Scotia determined that the remains were those of a 13-month-old Finnish boy named Eino Viljami Panula. He along with his mother and four brothers went down with the ship. The family was on their way to the United States to join the boys’ father, John, who was working in Pennsylvania at the time. The baby’s body was found a few days after the Titanic sank by the Canadian recovery ship Mackay-Bennett and was taken to Halifax to be buried in Fairview Lawn cemetery along with 120 other victims of the Titanic. His gravestone read “Unknown Child.” The mystery of his identity seemed to be solved when 68-year-old Magda Schleifer was approached by the television company who was preparing to shoot a film on the Titanic’s ghosts to be shown on their Secrets of the Dead series. Magda is the granddaughter of Eino’s mother’s sister. She agreed to give a DNA blood test to see if she was related to the unknown Titanic baby. When the mystery seemed to be solved, the boy’s relatives traveled overseas to visit the boy’s grave.

However, after more DNA testing was done, it was concluded that the body was not that of Eino Viljami Panula. A test on the body’s HVS1, a type of mitochondria DNA molecule did not match that of the Panula family. After Sidney Leslie Goodwin submitted a DNA sample, they found that the boy’s DNA better matched his. The Goodwin boy was said to have died on the ship with his entire family including five siblings as they were on their way to start a new life in the United States. The Goodwin family has since been told of the new findings, but they have not said whether or not they plan to visit the cemetery.

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