In June 1984, skeletonized human remains were discovered in a farm outbuilding near Troy, Missouri. Analysis performed at the time of recovery suggested that these were the remains of an adult male of European ancestry, between 40 and 80 years old at the time of death. He likely stood between 6’ to 6’2” and was dressed in expensive, formal clothing. The cause of death was a gunshot wound, and the manner of death was determined to be homicide. It was estimated that he had been deceased for approximately 6 months. Traditional forensic DNA testing was used to search CODIS, but no match was found. Over the years, investigators pursued all available leads in an attempt to identify the victim, but in spite of all this, the unknown homicide victim is still unidentified nearly 38 years later.
Now, in 2022, Southeast Missouri State University anthropology students, supervised by Dr. Jennifer Bengtson, will inventory the remains and attempt to refine the age-at-death estimate. They will develop plans for isotope testing and forensic artwork, which they will implement to support the ongoing investigation. Dr. Bengtson’s students will also use published guidance and non-destructive chemical analyses to select the best skeletal evidence to submit to Othram for Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing. Othram will attempt to build a comprehensive genealogical profile that can be used to generate new leads to the unknown man’s identity or at least to the identity of a family member. Meanwhile, Dr. Bengtson’s students will be introduced to records research by searching missing persons databases and public records for potential matches. Results of these analyses will be delivered to the Lincoln County law enforcement agency for further investigation.
This work is being funded in large part by the Southeast Missouri State University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Harryette Campbell Endowed Anthropological Fund.
Anyone with information about this case should contact Lieutenant Amy Tippett of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division. Lieutenant Tippett can be reached at 636.462.6470. For more information on the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, visit their website at www.lcsomo.gov.