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Judge Orders Body of Jesse James Exhumed for New Autopsy

July 7, 1995

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) _ The grave of outlaw Jesse James will be exhumed for DNA testing and a new autopsy to resolve century-old questions over who is buried there.

The exhumation must be done before the end of July, and the remains must be reinterred within 90 days, Clay County Circuit Judge Victor Howard said Thursday.

A 15-member team of scientists, led by forensic scientist James Starrs of George Washington University, hope to determine the caliber of bullet that killed James and the distance and angle from which it was fired. The university will pay for the exhumation.

James was posing as a cattle buyer in April 1882 when a member of his gang shot him to death to collect reward money.

Questions have lingered about whether the body in the grave is his and results of an autopsy conducted in 1882 have been missing for years.

The outlaw’s grave is in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kearney, northwest of Kansas City. His remains were moved there in 1902 from his mother’s back yard outside Kearney.

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