Posted: Feb 9, 2012 11:00 PM
Updated: Feb 10, 2012 7:10 AM
WACO - Untold numbers of immigrants cross the border in the Valley. They can face the dangers of the searing summer heat or the unknown water of the Rio Grande. Some won't make it out of South Texas alive.
One woman is determined to return the dead to the families who loved them. Dr. Lori Baker works to match names to the unnamed. One young boy, about 12 years old, is who she's working to identify next.
"He's a 12-year-old boy. They shouldn't be dead on our border coming in with a backpack and soccer ball," says Dr. Baker.
Dr. Baker has tried to find the boy's family through a DNA match. For now, the forensic anthropology lab at Baylor University is his home. Along with the young boy's remains, the department houses bits and pieces of bones from other people.
Dr. Baker started a database in 2003 to connect families with loved ones who died during the journey.
"I knew it was a problem in Texas with individuals coming across the border and less than enough things being done to get them back to their families," she says.
She has convinced some border medical examiners to send her pieces of the remains of those who died during the journeys. She picks up the cost for shipping and analysis. The information goes into her database.
"Families are desperate, absolutely desperate, and they have the least amount of resources," she says.
Dr. Baker is now hoping to create a sketch of what the boy in the box looks like in an effort to connect him to his family.
Her database at Baylor isn't the biggest in Texas. The University of North Texas in Dallas has the biggest database of immigrants who died during crossing.