In June 1986, a fisherman found a human skull on the banks of the Delaware River by the Morrisville Boat Ramp. The fisherman lived in Buckingham Township and took the skull to the Buckingham Township Police Department. Due to the condition of the remains and the fact that no other related remains were found, there was little investigators could do to identify the unknown person or even attempt to describe any physical characteristics about the unknown person.
Bucks County Detectives took possession of the human skull in October 2019 during a probe of a homicide investigation, but then relinquished it to the Bucks County Coroner’s Office. Later that year, the Bucks County Coroner’s Office entered the skull into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) database as UP62362. Eventually, without any leads, the case went cold.
In September 2022, Bucks County Detectives retrieved the skull from the Coroner’s Office and sent it to Othram to leverage advanced DNA testing so that new leads could be developed. Othram developed a viable DNA extract from the skeletal remains and used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to develop a comprehensive DNA profile. Othram's in-house genetic genealogy team used the profile in a genealogical search, to develop investigative leads that were returned back to law enforcement. The costs associated with Othram's work were funded by Audiochuck and we are very grateful for their suppport on this case and many others.
A follow up investigation by Bucks County detectives revealed that the skull belonged to Richard Thomas Alt who was 31 years old when he was reported missing to the Trenton Police Department in early 1985. He was last seen on Christmas Eve 1984 by his parents. Richard was reported as missing in NamUS as MP97130.
“This would not have been possible but for the technical expertise that Othram provided to us, for free,” Weintraub said. “I hope that this powerful combination of technology and genealogy becomes the template for solving cold and current cases now and in the future.”
At the time of his disappearance, Alt and his girlfriend were suspected homicide victims in New Jersey. Her body was discovered in April 1985 in the Delaware River in Trenton, Mercer County. The cases remain unsolved, according to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office considers our investigation closed due to lack of evidence of any crime being committed in Bucks County.