Cumberland County Sheriff's Office and NC Unidentified Project Partner with Othram to Identify 2004 John Doe

Almost two decades later, investigators are still working to identify mummified remains found in a drainage ditch in Wade, North Carolina
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Published October 03 by Michael Vogen
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In June 2004, mummified remains were found in a drainage ditch off Vance Melvin Road in Wade, North Carolina. Investigators determined that the remains likely belonged to a Black man estimated to be between the ages of 40-60 years old. The unknown man's height was determined to be 5’8”, and his hair was described as gray and black with tight small curls. Investigators also noted that the man did not have teeth in his upper jaw at the time of his death. Due to the late-stage decomposition of the body, no determination was made about the man's weight, eye color, or cause of death.

Over the past 18 years since the discovery of the unknown man, investigators have diligently pursued all leads in the case. In February 2010, the case was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP6656. Despite exhaustive efforts from law enforcement, the identity of the unknown man has remained elusive. With few leads for investigators to pursue, the case eventually went cold.

In 2022, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the NC Unidentified Project teamed with Othram to determine if advanced DNA testing could help establish an identity for the man or at least identify a family member. This case continues a longstanding collaboration between Othram and the NC Unidentified Project. Anyone with information that could aid in this investigation is encouraged to contact the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office by calling 910-323-1500 and referencing agency case number 2004-08298 or #04-5189/B04-1586. 

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Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Director of Case Management

2829 Technology Forest Blvd Suite 100, The Woodlands, Texas 77381

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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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 to learn how we can help you with your case. With anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.