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Local dentist 'on the case'


Stony Plain Reporter/Grove Examiner - November 4, 2005

He's a dentist in Spruce Grove by day - but sometimes, some days, he's a criminal investigator, an expert witness and now, a TV personality.

Ronald Haines, a general practice dentist under his own name in Spruce Grove, has also trained as a forensic odontologist. This is a branch of forensic medicine concerning dental evidence, such as determining the identity of a burning or drowning victim, age estimates of both living and deceased persons, and the analysis of bite marks found on the victims of attacks.

Because of his forensic expertise, for which he trained in Edmonton, Toronto and the U.S., he has been called on by the RCMP to help solve crimes and identify those killed in accidents - those who can't be otherwise identified.

"The major field of work has been identification cases," Haines said, adding that the first disaster he was involved in was a crash between two Hercules airplanes at Namao in 1985, and has since worked on various other cases, including the Hinton train crash of 1986.

"I also deal with a good number of car accidents and small plane crashes," Haines said.

For his work, Haines was called on by the team making Booked, a self-described "television book club" where


experts in crime investigation dissect fictional murder mysteries. The show is produced by Edmonton-based company Reel Girls Media, and consists of a panel of experts and book lovers debating the literary and technical aspects of crime fiction novels.

The book this week, Blood Memory by Greg Iles, deals with a main-character forensic odontologist who is investigating the crimes of a serial killer. Haines was called on to explain procedures and techniques used by dental evidence experts, and is somewhat excited to see himself on television.

"This is a first experience for me," Haines said, explaining that much of his work is done outside the public eye.

"I've valued by anonymity," he added.

One of the most rewarding experiences in his career, Haines said, was the opportunity to go down to Thailand after the 2004 tsunami, to work with international police agencies in determining the identities of the victims of that natural disaster.

"One of the major difficulties was that more than half of the victims were foreign people - mostly tourists," he said. He was able to give peace to families, working with a number of other people across Canada and the world. The team included fingerprint experts, and those in other aspects of forensic analysis.

The show with Haines will be airing Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. on Access TV, and then again throughout the week on other stations. More information on the show can be found at