Bodies of 2 Unidentified Victims of 1944 Circus Fire Exhumed

Forensic experts on Monday exhumed the bodies of two unidentified victims of the 1944 Hartford circus fire in an effort to determine if one of them is the remains of a Vermont woman who was never again seen.

The exhumations happened at the Northwood Cemetery in Windsor and DNA testing is expected to take weeks to months.

Using an excavator and shovels, staff from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's Office uncovered the bodies of two people who have never been identified.

They died 75 years ago in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus fire on July 6, 1944. The fire killed 168 people and injured 682 others.

Chief Medical Examiner James Gill's office will compare DNA samples from the remains of the two women to a sample from the granddaughter of Grace Fifield, of Newport, Vermont, who attended the circus and was never seen again.

The two bodies in Northwood Cemetery in Windsor have been identified for all these years as Victim 2109 and Victim 4512.

A news release says both bodies were in buried cement vaults. The DNA testing is expected to take weeks to months depending on the condition of the DNA.

Fifield's granddaughter, Sandy Sumrow, spoke with NBC Connecticut in May.

"My mother didn't have closure, her sister didn't have closure, her brother didn't have closure," she said.

Patricial Congelosi has known about the remains for many years as her backyard overlooks the cemetery.

She was 7 years old and was supposed to go to the circus that day.

"My father was a milkman and someone gave him three tickets to go, so we got up that morning. I it was very, very hot and he told my mother, ’I am not sitting under a tent. We're going to the beach,’" Congelosi said.

She's hopeful the exhumations lead to answers.

"I hope they identify who it is. I really do. It's a long time coming," she added.

Ever wonder how scientists test DNA from a body they exhume? Here's how the process works.

A state judge approved the exhumations last month. The next steps include dental and anthropological evaluation of the remains followed by DNA testing, according to the office of the chief medical examiner.

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