Myth Merchant Films, the Alberta OCME, and Othram Work to Identify the Mad Trapper of Rat River

The mysterious fugitive, who has been unidentified for 90 years, shot a constable and led the RCMP on a seven-week manhunt
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Published July 26, 2021
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Summary

In December 1931, following the unprovoked shooting of RCMP Constable A.W. King, an unknown criminal who identified himself by the pseudonym Albert Johnson led the RCMP on seven-week manhunt across the desolate Arctic landscape. During the pursuit, the Mad Trapper shot and killed Constable E. Millen. With the help of indigenous guides the Mad Trapper was located and killed during a gun battle on the Eagle River on February 17, 1932. Despite the RCMP releasing photos of the Mad Trapper and receiving hundreds of tips from around the world his true identity was never established.

In 2007, Myth Merchant Films of Alberta Canada secured permission for a team of forensic experts to exhume the body of the Mad Trapper in order to conduct a thorough examination of the remains and retrieve DNA samples to finally determine his true identity. The team of world class experts included Dr. David Sweet, Dr. Owen Beattie, Dr. Lynne Bell, Dr. Sam Andrews and John Evans of the Canadian Police Research Centre.

Examination of the Mad Trapper’s remains revealed several important insights: (1) he was approximately 30-40 years of age, (2) he suffered from scoliosis, (3) the shot that killed him entered the lower back, (4) he had undergone sophisticated and expensive dental work for the period, and (5) results of oxygen isotope tests conducted suggested he spent his youth in the American Midwest.

I think what’s captivated Canadian’s imagination is the mystery surrounding the Mad Trapper’s origin story, and now for the first time the public has a chance to be involved in solving a nearly century old case.
-Michael Jorgensen, Myth Merchant Films
The retrieval of the Trapper’s DNA has enabled genetic comparisons to possible relatives. There have been comparisons made with more than two-dozen families, with strong circumstantial evidence the fugitive was a family member, and yet, to date no close relatives have been identified. Last year, Othram joined the hunt to identify the Mad Trapper. Starting from exhumed remains, the Othram team leveraged Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to develop a comprehensive genealogical profile for the Mad Trapper. Recent biogeographical analysis has determined his background is Swedish. We now know the Trapper is linked to multiple descendants of Gustaf Magnusson (1776 - 1853) and Britta Svensdotter (1781 - 1846). Further analysis suggests that the Mad Trapper is their descendant, or he is the descendant of one of their close relatives. Furthermore, many of his genetic matches trace their ancestry to the towns of Hånger, Kävsjö, and Kulltorp in Sweden.

If you share a similar ancestry to the Mad Trapper or think you might be related to him, you can contribute your DNA data to help us identify him or find his family. If you have tested with a consumer DNA testing company, you can upload your data and opt-in to a database that allows law enforcement search. If you have not taken a DNA test, we can help you get tested through the DNASolves® Connect program. Finally, if you have explored your own family line through genealogy and think you might have clues that would help us with this puzzle, we encourage you to reach out and let us know.

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 recovery, 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 fail. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit Othram.com to learn how we can help you with your case. Visit dnasolves.com to learn how anyone can make a difference in helping solve the next cold case.

Updates

Can you help us identify the Mad Trapper?

July 26, 2021

If you share a similar ancestry to the Mad Trapper or think you might be related to him, you can contribute your DNA data or genealogical clues, in order to help us identify him or find his family. Reach out to us if you want to help!


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