Benton County Sheriff’s Office Teams with Othram to Identify a 1996 Homicide Victim

Last seen in 1995, this unknown homicide victim is now identified as 31-year-old John Douglas Rollins Jr.
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Published October 25, 2022 by Michael Vogen
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Summary

In October 1996, the human remains of a male were located in Beaver Lake near the area of Monte Ne. The Benton County Sheriff’s Office was called to investigate, and the manner of death was determined to be a homicide. After investigation, the identity of the victim remained unsolved and the case went cold. On October 25, 1996, an examination was conducted on the remains by the University of Arkansas, Department of Anthropology in order to determine a possible age of the victim. On April 3, 1998, a facial reconstruction was completed and a composite of the victim was released. On September 18, 2008, testable portions of the remains were sent to the University of North Texas in an attempt to develop a DNA profile. After testing, a partial mitochondrial DNA profile was developed. On December 18, 2008, a case entry was created in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons Database (NAMUS) as UP2906.

On August 5, 2016, Lieutenant Hunter Petray began a case review to determine the best option to identifying the victim. Dental records from the victim were compared against numerous other known missing individuals with no success. On January 9, 2019, Lieutenant Petray contacted the Arkansas Crime Lab in reference to resubmitting evidence in this case for further testing. The Crime Lab was willing to help with further testing. On March 28, 2019, Lieutenant Petray contacted the Arkansas Crime Lab and inquired about using genealogy in cold cases. The Crime Lab advised they did not have the ability but that a private lab could possibly help.

In March 2021, Captain Thomas See and Lieutenant Hunter Petray met with Othram. After meeting with Othram, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office worked with the Benton County Prosecutor’s Office in an effort to help facilitate this advanced testing. On April 22, 2021, a request was made to the Arkansas Crime Lab to ship testable portions of the remains to Othram. On October 28, 2021, after several iterations, Othram was finally able to develop a DNA profile for the victim. With the victim’s DNA profile finally developed, the science known as “genetic genealogy” was implemented in hopes of finding a relative. On June 29, 2022, Lieutenant Petray was able to make contact with the relative in an attempt to narrow down the possible identity of the victim. This relative was unaware of anyone missing.

On September 17, 2022, Othram's in-house genealogy team identified a potential lead in an individual living in the Springdale area. The individual’s son had been listed as deceased in an obituary. However, no social security death index record could be located for the son. On September 20, 2022, Lieutenant Petray and Detective Ralph Bartley made contact with the identified individual in Springdale and inquired as to the whereabouts of his son. The individual disclosed that his son had been missing since the mid 1990’s but no police report had ever been filed with law enforcement. Other information disclosed during the interview led Lieutenant Petray to believe that there was a strong possibility their missing son could in fact be the unidentified victim in this case.

On September 26, 2022, with this new information, Lieutenant Petray was able to collect a DNA sample from the individual to be compared against the unidentified victim in this case. On October 12, 2022, DNA collected from the possible relative was compared with DNA of the unidentified victim. Results indicated a genetic match between the two individuals.

For decades, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office has pursued multiple leads in this case. Finally, after 26 years, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to announce, the victim of this 1996 cold case homicide has finally been identified as 31-year-old John Douglas Rollins Jr. The Benton County Sheriff’s Office offers our sincere condolences to the family of John Rollins. Through further investigation, Lieutenant Petray has been able to determine that John Rollins Jr. was last seen by family members in 1995.

While we are thankful to finally be able to give a small degree of closure to John’s family, the homicide investigation into his death continues and remains active to date. If anyone has information regarding this case, please contact Lieutenant Hunter Petray at hunter.petray@bentoncountyar.gov or the Benton County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division at 479-271-1009.

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Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Director of Case Management

2829 Technology Forest Blvd Suite 100, The Woodlands, Texas 77381
media@othram.com

Michael works with law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada on “unsolvable“ cases that can benefit from advanced DNA testing methods. He helps these agencies use cutting edge DNA sequencing and new forensic techniques to develop investigative leads for their cases.

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About Othram Inc.

Othram is the world’s first private DNA laboratory built specifically to apply the power of modern parallel sequencing to forensic evidence. Othram’s scientists are experts at ... Read morerecovery, enrichment, and analysis of human DNA from trace quantities of degraded or contaminated materials. Founded in 2018, and located in The Woodlands, Texas, our team works with academic researchers, forensic scientists, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to achieve results when other approaches have failed. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit Othram.com to learn how we can help you with your case. With dnasolves.com anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.