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.
A DNASolves fund has been created to raise funds for casework costs and anyone can contribute here.