Julie Roberts

Forensic Anthropologist and Archaeologist

Julie is a forensic anthropologist and archaeologist with approximately 20 years of practitioner experience in the location, recovery and identification of human remains from scenes of crime, war zones and mass fatality incidents. Her professional skills include:

  • Distinguishing between human and animal remains
  • Identification of the deceased from skeletal, decomposed and fragmented remains (estimation of age at death, sex, stature, ancestry, identifying features)
  • Disaster Victim Identification
  • Interpretation of thermal damage and traumatic injuries to bone
  • Image analysis (CT, X-Ray, MRI) for the purposes of:
    • detecting skeletal indicators of stress
    • estimation of age in the living (or deceased)
  • Search, excavation and recovery of human remains from individual and mass graves
  • Advising on the selection and collection of DNA samples in highly fragmented and burnt remains
  • Specialist advice and reports on all aspects of forensic anthropology including cremated remains
  • Development of professional standards in Forensic Anthropology

Julie has been employed as a senior lecturer in forensic anthropology at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) since 2019. She teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate forensic anthropology and forensic science students, and she is programme Leader for the BSc Forensic Anthropology. In addition to this Julie provides consultancy services including peer reviews, scene attendance, postmortem and laboratory examinations, for prosecution and defence.

Prior to working at LJMU, Julie was Scientific Lead and Team Leader in Forensic Anthropology, Archaeology and Ecology, at Cellmark Forensic Services, and before that she held the same position at LGC Forensics. She has assisted with a large number of complex investigations including homicides, fatal fires, industrial explosions and terrorist incidents. She was lead forensic anthropologist following the London bombings in 2005 where she undertook post-incident reconstruction of the remains of the bombers, lead forensic anthropologist for Operation Tempest the investigation into the abduction and murder of April Jones in 2012/13, and in 2018 she received a commendation from the Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police for her work following a fatal fire in which multiple members of the same family died. Internationally Julie was senior anthropologist with the British Forensic Team in Kosovo between 1999 and 2002 she has undertaken numerous deployments with the Royal Military Police and Counter Terrorist Command to assist with the recovery and identification of military fatalities, the deceased from civilian air-crashes and victims of terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon.

Julie has contributed to resilience plans for mass fatality incidents and produced numerous field, mortuary and laboratory Standard Operating Procedures relating to identification of the deceased from individual and mass fatality incidents. She is experienced in the set-up of temporary mortuaries, management of workflow through temporary mortuaries and the collection of postmortem DNA samples. She has also provided expert opinion for independent inquiries such as the national cremation investigation in 2016, led by Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC. She is currently involved in co-authoring a judicial primer on Forensic Anthropology designed to assist the judiciary when handling scientific evidence in the courtroom, as part of the Judicial Primers Project (a collaboration between members of the judiciary, the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh).

Julie has successfully developed, implemented, and delivered a wide range of training courses for scientists, police officers, CSIs, and military personnel in the subjects of Forensic Anthropology, Archaeology and Disaster Victim Identification. Together with colleagues from Interpol she recently produced new guidelines for the examination and recording of highly fragmented and burnt remains in mass fatality incidents, and she is involved in reviewing and producing guidelines for use of secondary identifiers in DVI operations.

Recent Publications

Roberts, J. and Baldry, A., 2021. Disposal of a Homicide Victim by Dismemberment and Burning: The Contribution of Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology in Reconstructing the Crime. Archaeological and Environmental Forensic Science 2.1, pp. 39–48

Márquez-Grant, N. and Roberts, J., 2021. Redefining Forensic Anthropology in the 21st Century and its role in mass fatality investigations. European Journal of Anatomy, 25 (S2) pp, 19-34

Márquez-Grant, N., Webster, H., Dussault, Harris, M., Roberts, J., Errickson, D., Sanabria Medina, C., 2021. Identifying blast trauma in the human skeleton: applications for forensic anthropology. In, Tatyana Shvedchikova, Negahnaz Moghaddam and Mateo Barone (Eds) Crimes in the Past.  Archaeopress, pp. 206-243

De Boer, H.H, Roberts, J, Delabarde, T, Mundorff, A.Z., Blau, S., 2020. Disaster victim identification operations with fragmented, burnt, or commingled remains: experience-based recommendations, Forensic Sciences Research. Vol. 5 (3)

Roberts J, 2016. Report by Dr Julie Roberts, Forensic Anthropologist, in, the Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC, Report of the National Cremation Investigation

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Health/Policy/BurialsCremation/NationalInvestigation/NationalCremationInvestigation-Report. p.19, pp. 372-418