Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office Teams with Othram to Identify a 1986 John Doe

After nearly four decades, the remains of a white male found in a burned boxcar in Minneapolis, Minnesota have not been identified.


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Published July 07 by Michael Vogen
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In May 1986, a call was received about a fire at 24th and Elm Street in Minneapolis, Minnesota, just east of downtown between I-35W and Highway 280. When fire department officials arrived at the scene, they found a retired railroad boxcar engulfed in flames. The bodies of two individuals were discovered inside of the boxcar, which had caught fire due to a charcoal grill. While one of the individuals was identified, one was not. The unidentified individual was determined to be a white male who stood between 5’6” and 5’10” and weighed between 140 and 150 pounds. No other identifying characteristics for the man could be determined, and he became known as a John Doe.

Details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP102933. Despite the efforts of investigators, with few leads to go on, the man's identity is still unknown after nearly forty years. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office is seeking Othram's assistance in hopes that advanced DNA technology will provide new leads about the man’s identity.

The Hennepin Medical Examiner's Office has submitted forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas, and Othram scientists will work to develop a suitable DNA extract from the remains. This DNA extract will be used in Forensic Grade Genome Sequencing® to produce a comprehensive DNA profile for the man. Othram's in-house forensic genetic genealogy team will perform records research and use genetic genealogy to develop new leads in the case. A DNASolves® crowdfund has been established to cover the casework costs. Anyone can contribute here.

If you have information that could assist in this investigation, contact the Hennepin Medical Examiner’s Office by calling 612-215-6300 and referencing agency case 86-987.

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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.