HALIFAX – The nameless child who became a symbol for the many children who died aboard the Titanic has been identified — again.
After more DNA testing, Canadian researchers said Tuesday the child they declared a few years ago to be a 13-month-old Finnish baby is actually a 19-month-old English boy.
"It's very easy to say you got this wrong, but nevertheless that is how science works, and you do change your ideas and you do change your theories," said Ryan Parr, the lead researcher in the case.
The Finnish boy's relatives, who even traveled overseas to visit the boy's small plot in a Halifax cemetery, have been notified. The news must have come as a disappointment, Parr said.
For decades, the boy was known simply as the unknown child — a symbol of all the children who died when the Titanic went down in the North Atlantic in 1912.
Then, in 2002, the researchers declared that the remains were those of the Finnish boy, Eino Viljami Panula.
But they began to question themselves after conducting more DNA tests.
A DNA test on the child's HVS1, a type of mitochondria DNA molecule, did not match the Panula family, setting the team off on a new hunt for the child's identity.
The team eventually found a surviving maternal relative of the English boy, Sidney Leslie Goodwin, who submitted DNA evidence. They came up with a match.
According to the researchers, the boy died with his entire family, including five siblings, as they set out for a new life in America.
The Goodwin relatives have been told of the new finding, but it was unknown whether they had plans to visit the cemetery, which holds some of the disaster's 1,500 victims.
Charles Haas of the Titanic International Society said the news only shows that scientific pursuits can be elusive.
"This has been a very difficult project," Parr said. "It's almost like a detective story — just when you think you have your suspect, they sort of elude your grasp."