Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office Teams with Othram to Identify Bonneville County John Doe

Almost 20 years after discovery, a deceased man found near the Palisades Reservoir is still unidentified
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Published April 01, 2021
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In September 2002, while walking by the Palisades Reservoir on the border of Idaho and Wyoming, a man and his dog came upon what appeared to be a part of a human skull. The Bonneville County Sheriff’s deputies got involved and searched the surrounding area, additionally recovering a tailbone and vertebrae. Pathologists examined the remains and concluded that the partial skull most likely belonged to a male between the ages of 25 and 45. The skeletal remains were substantially weathered, suggesting that they may have been in the reservoir for as many as 15-20 years prior to discovery. FBI DNA testing at the time revealed the skull and pelvic bone were indeed from the same person.

Law enforcement investigators looked into drowning cases from 1978 to 1998, in which bodies were not recovered. The investigation honed in on a group of four individuals that drowned in 1980 after their boat capsized, 100 yards from the shore. Two of the victims were 38-year-old men and the other two victims were their respective children, ages seven and ten. Although this accidental drowning has been a focus of the investigation, investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the skeletal remains belonging to victims of a crime. Identifying the remains would help law enforcement investigators better determine the circumstances surrounding their death.

In 2021, Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office partnered with Othram to use advanced DNA testing to establish an identification of, or to find nearest kin to the decedent. Anyone with information that might aid the investigation is encouraged to contact Det. Sgt. Karl Noah with the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office at 208-529-1375 or via email at A fund has been established to cover the costs of testing for this case (logged in NamUs as UP12402). The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office has contributed to the campaign to help expedite the identification.

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 recovery, 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 fail. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit to learn how we can help you with your case. Visit to learn how anyone can make a difference in helping solve the next cold case.

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