ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- The bodies of Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia, and his wife, Alexandra, were exhumed by authorities seeking answers regarding the family's slaying.
The couple and their four children were shot to death in 1918 by Bolshevik revolutionaries. The family was buried in St. Petersburg's St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral, but the Russian Orthodox Church seeks to ascertain family links before other relatives can be interred there.
After DNA tests confirmed bodies found in a mass grave in 1991 in the Ural Mountains were indeed the members of the Romanov family a long-running murder case was closed in 1998.
The tests, though, did not convince the church. Remains of two of the czar's children, Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria, were found in different Ural graves in 2007, and doubts about their identification led to a re-examination of the family's DNA prior to their reburial with the family.
Investigators took samples from the remains of Nicholas II and Alexandra Wednesday, to attempt to confirm the identification of Alexei and Maria.
ladimir Solovyov, head investigator, said authorities also took "samples for blood from the stains on the full-dress uniform of Emperor Alexander II [Nicholas II's grandfather], who was killed by radical revolutionaries on 1 March 1881." Alexander II was killed by in a bomb attack thrown by a "People's Will" revolutionary in St. Petersburg.
The remains of Nicholas II and Alexandra were returned to the cathedral crypt after the samples were taken.