Kentucky State Police, Medical Examiner's Office, and Boyd County Coroner's Office Team with Othram to Identify EastPark John Doe

A young man found in 2020, in a shallow grave, has now been identified as Zachary Taylor Pearson from Saint Albans, West Virginia.

You can help by contributing funding.

Help fund another case Your contributions pay for lab supplies and research tools

Would you like to help solve cases like this one?

You can help by contributing your DNA data here:
Contribute DNA
Published September 14, 2023 by Michael Vogen
Media Inquiries
Download Flyer


In July 2020, two hunters preparing for the fall season on their leased land in Ashland, Kentucky came upon a shallow grave. They found a young man, mostly skeletonized, lying face-down. Toxicology reports revealed that the young man had likely ingested drugs close to the time of his death. The PMI was estimated at 2 weeks to a month and the cause of death was determined to be a gunshot wound. It was not clear to investigators if the man, also known as EastPark John Doe, was murdered elsewhere and brought to the grave postmortem, or if he was killed where his body was found.

EastPark is an industrial development center in Boyd County, Kentucky, about one mile from I-64 and across from the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North East. There is a small road near where EastPark John Doe was found, leading to a secluded lot where locals go for tailgate parties and truckers seek sleep before heading back to the highway.

Law enforcement worked diligently to identify the young man but eventually all leads were exhausted. Traditional forensic DNA testing also did not reveal an identity for the young man, either. The case was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP73223.

In 2021, the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office and Kentucky State Police sent forensic evidence to Othram in the The Woodlands, Texas. The costs associated with forensic DNA testing and research for this case were generously funded through a DNASolves® crowdfund. We are grateful to everyone that provided the support necessary to work this case.

Othram scientists developed a DNA extract from the evidence and then used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the murdered young man. Othram's in-house forensic genetic genealogy team used the DNA profile in a genetic genealogy search to identify genetic relatives of the young man and to produce investigative leads that were returned to law enforcement investigators.

With leads in hand, the Kentucky State Police continued the investigation. Discussions with family and follow up DNA testing enabled investigators to confirm the identity of the young man as Zachary Taylor Pearson, born February 26, 1997. Pearson was originally from Saint Albans, West Virginia and he had no known association to Kentucky. His body was found about 50 miles from Saint Albans.

Investigators are now working to identify the person or persons responsible for Pearson's murder. If you have information that could aid this investigation, please contact Detective David Boarman at the Kentucky State Police Post 14 at +1 606-928-6421. The police agency case number for this case is 14-20-0358.

Help fund another case Your contributions pay for lab supplies and research tools

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.

Similar cases

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