In December 2014 and later in April 2021, skeletal remains of an unidentified man were found scattered near a creek in Sonoma County, California, just off of Chanate Road and west of Terra Linda Drive in Santa Rosa, California. Some of the remains were found in an eddy of the creek where it merged with a man-made culvert. Due to the condition of the remains, no conclusions could be made regarding the identity of the individual. Investigators with the Coroner Unit of the Sonoma County Sheriff submitted evidence to the California Department of Justice (CA-DOJ) where traditional DNA testing methods were pursued in an attempt to identify the individual. Despite the work of investigators, the individual could not be identified, and the case went cold.
In 2023, the California Department of Justice, in collaboration with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, submitted forensic evidence to Othram, in hopes that advanced DNA testing could assist with the identification of the individual. Othram scientists developed a comprehensive DNA profile for the individual using Forensic Grade Genome Sequencing®. Funding for advanced DNA testing was provided by the Roads to Justice (RTJ) program. During the course of the investigation, a potential relative of the individual came forward and provided a DNA sample for reference testing to determine if they were related to the unknown individual.
A comparison of the unidentified individual’s DNA profile to the potential relative’s DNA profile concluded that the two individuals were in fact related, confirming the identity of the unknown person as Joshua Daniel Fritz. Fritz was born December 30, 1985 and was a resident of Santa Rosa, California. Fritz’s remains were discovered days before he would have been 29 years old. The last known date of contact with Fritz was in November of 2011 and he was officially reported missing in May of 2019. A missing persons record for Fritz was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as MP98471.
The circumstances surrounding the death of Fritz are unclear at this time. Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office at 707-565-2121 and reference agency case number 14- 0001432. Additional details will be provided as they become available.