DNA Tests Clear Up Titanic's 'Last Mystery'

Did 2-year-old Loraine Allison perish in 1912 ... or not?
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2014 7:11 AM CST
DNA Tests Clear Up Titanic's 'Last Mystery'
A photo of Helen Kramer.   (Wikimedia Commons)

A century later, the word "mystery" has been replaced by "hoax." The Telegraph reports on what it calls the Titanic's "last mystery": What was the fate of Loraine Allison? The 2-year-old passenger was believed to have gone down with the ship, which would make her the only child traveling in first- or second-class to die on the Titanic. But no body was recovered, and 28 years later, in 1940, a woman stepped forward claiming she was Allison and knowing details only a family member would be privy to. Helen Kramer claimed she was put into a lifeboat with a man who, before his death, told her of her true identity and revealed himself to be Titanic designer Thomas Andrews, who was also thought to have died in the sinking.

The wealthy Allison family largely brushed her off over the years, and the story could have ended a mystery with her 1992 death ... except it didn't. Twenty years later, Kramer's granddaughter, Debrina Woods, started republicizing the claim, posting to online forums, saying she intended to write a book on the case, and selling mugs and mouse pads. The Allison family was equally unimpressed, and even took out a restraining order to prevent Woods from scattering Kramer's ashes over the family plot. Science to the rescue: A Titanic researcher founded the Loraine Allison Identification Project, and tested mitochondrial DNA from a relative of both Allison and Kramer. The word came last month: No match. Woods claims she still has proof the story is true; an Allison family member calls it a "colossal fraud that has haunted my family for years." (In other Titanic news, a theme park being built in China will house a life-size replica of the ship ... that will "hit" an iceberg.)

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