Investigators are still tying up loose ends in the murder of former bikini model Jasmine Fiore, but they were able to use unusual forensic science to identify her body and help crack the case.
Police believe former reality TV star Ryan Jenkins murdered Fiore, his wife, and then, in a desperate attempt to disguise her identity, pulled out her teeth and cut off her finger tips.
Jenkins, 32, who was found hanged in a Vancouver hotel room Sunday night, could not have known that Fiore's body held clues that he couldn't see.
The 28-year-old's body was badly disfigured, but investigators were able to find out who she was by tracking the serial number on her breast implants.
Originally intended to speed recall of defective devices and ensure patient safety, serial numbers on implants and prosthetics are now being used to speed identification of the unknown.
"If you have something surgically implanted in you by a surgeon, that is going to have a serial number, and that serial number will be recorded," medical examiner Dr. Tracy Corey told ABC News.
Orange County, Calif., district attorney Tony Rackauckas called Jenkins' attempt to hide Fiore's identity "an amateur idea."
"I know there is a TV show where there's a predator who did that to a couple of people. I don't know if that's where he got the idea," the DA said on "Good Morning America" Monday.
"There are other ways to identify somebody," such as DNA, he said.
"It's unusual, but it's not unique," Rackauckas said of the method of identifying Jenkins. "That's happened before."
Most of us have seen shows like "CSI" use serial numbers to identify victims. These numbers are known as "unique identifiers" and are specific to every implant and prosthetic used by a patient.
Hidden Codes Reveal Identities
Implants, pins, artificial hips and knees, pacemakers and even the braces on your teeth all carry serial numbers, and each of these serial numbers is listed in various registries.
These unique identifiers can help investigators and medical examiners identify a victim who may otherwise remain a mystery.
On the HBO series "Autopsy," a decayed corpse washed ashore with what seems to be a jellyfish adhered to it. This "jellyfish" turned out to be a saline breast implant with a traceable serial number.
These discoveries happen off the screen all the time. In Indiana, coroners discovered a decomposed body had been fitted for an artificial hip. The serial number revealed that the owner was a missing elderly woman.
In Chicago, a body unearthed at a demolition site was found to have metal rods in the legs. The serial numbers identified the body as a woman who had been missing for nearly seven years.
For medical examiners, these hidden codes can close cases and give anguished families some small comfort that their loved one has been identified.
"If they could just know what happened, it would ease their pain," said Corey. "It could give them a sense of finality."