HALIFAX – For years, Titanic buffs knew him simply as the Unknown Child.
Buried in a small plot in a Halifax cemetery, the baby was a poignant symbol of the children who perished on the vessel when it sank in 1912.
In 2002, it seemed the mystery was solved – Canadian researchers said he was a 13-month-old Finnish boy. But on Tuesday, a lead researcher said his team was wrong, and that the child was actually a 19-month-old boy from England.
Ryan Parr said additional DNA tests showed the boy is Sidney Leslie Goodwin, whose family perished aboard the ship on their way to Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Researchers had used samples of the child’s DNA they had exhumed in 2001, including three teeth and a small piece of bone. Based on the teeth, they narrowed the candidates to children of a certain age, which experts indicated was most likely about a year old.
Parr said they tried to match the child’s DNA to surviving female family members, narrowing it down to Goodwin and Eino Viljami Panula, who was in the third-class section with his mother and four brothers. Researchers decided it was Panula based on dental expertise.
Still, “There were some aspects that made us a bit uncomfortable, even though that’s what the teeth experts were telling us,” he said.
Additional tests confirmed the doubts. The DNA didn’t match the Panulas.
Parr said the team went back to the Goodwins and found a surviving maternal relative who submitted DNA evidence. Tests showed a match.
It’s believed that Goodwin, his parents and five siblings boarded the massive steamliner in Southampton, England, as third-class passengers.
The father, an electrician, was headed to New York to work at a power plant.