Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office Teams with Othram to Identify a 2001 John Doe

An unknown man whose remains were transferred to the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office in 2001 has been identified as Harlan L. Serene, born December 3, 1934.

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Published July 05 by Michael Vogen
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In September 2001, the partial skeletal remains of an individual were transferred into the custody of the Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office in Kansas City, Missouri. It was determined that the remains were that of an unknown male. Details around the original discovery date of the remains as well as other circumstances were not available. With limited information, the identity of the man could not be established and he became known as a John Doe.

In June 2011, details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP8850. Despite the efforts by law enforcement investigators to identify the man over the years, no matches were found, and the case went cold due to a lack of viable leads.

In 2023, the Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office submitted forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas to determine if advanced DNA testing could help identify the man. Othram scientists successfully developed a DNA extract from the forensic evidence, and then used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive genealogical profile for the unknown man. Othram’s in-house forensic genetic genealogy team then used this profile to conduct genetic genealogy research, ultimately providing new investigative leads to law enforcement.

Using this new information, a follow-up investigation was conducted leading investigators to potential relatives of the man. Reference DNA samples were collected from the potential relatives and compared to the DNA profile of the unknown man. This investigation led to the positive identification of the man, who is now known to be Harlan L. Serene, born December 3, 1934. Harlan was known to have lived in the city of St. Joseph, Missouri in the 1980s. St. Joseph is located approximately 30 miles north of Kansas City.

The identification of Harlan L. Serene represents the 14th case in the State of Missouri where officials have publicly identified an individual using technology developed by Othram. Most recently Logan McNaul Foster, who died in a Kansas City, Missouri pedestrian accident in 2023, was identified in April 2024.

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