In March 2006, human skeletal remains were found by a survey crew, near a wood pile in the Cuivre River State Park in Troy, Missouri. According to NamUs, recovered with the skeletal remains was a red "Eveready" small flashlight, small silver folding knife, cylinder style teal "Igloo" cooler with a white lid and maroon handle, a teal thermos with a black lid.
It was also reported in NamUs that the remains belong to a Caucasian male, likely 54-56 years of age at the time of his death. He was estimated to be 5'8" tall with an estimated weight of 260lb. Further analysis suggested that the man was right-handed, with a heavy, muscular build based on bone structure. A forensic facial reconstruction was commissioned but he was not recognized. With few leads to pursue, the case went cold and the man remained unidentified.
In 2021, the Cold Case Unit of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and the Lincoln County Coroners’ Office teamed with the Anthropology Program of Southeast Missouri State University to identify human remains through DNA analysis. Dr. Bengtson led SEMO students in anthropological investigation while coordinating with Othram for advanced DNA testing. Skeletal remains were sent to Othram's lab and a DNA extract was developed. Othram scientists used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to develop a comprehensive genealogical profile. Carla Davis generously donated her time to conduct a genealogical search and identified candidate family members for the unidentified man. Othram KinSNP™ rapid familial testing confirmed the relationship of a close relative. Lincoln County investigators completed their investigation, integrating SEMO Anthropology's findings, Othram's KinSNP™ testing, and their own investigative work, to confirm the identity of the unknown man.
Due to the condition of the remains at the time of their discovery, Lincoln County Coroner Dan Heavin, has said the cause of death remains undetermined, however there appears to be no signs of foul play or traumatic injury. The relatives of the deceased were contacted, and the remains released for burial. The family has asked that further details to be held in privacy, and local officials have agreed to honor this request.
Work on this case was funded by an undergraduate research grant from Southeast's Office of the Provost, donations to the University Foundation by private donors, the Department of History and Anthropology, and support from Department Chair Dr. Toni Alexander and Anthropology Instructor Ms. Jennifer Rickard. Their funding support was critical in enabling the identification of this man and his return to family.