Springdale Police & Utah Department of Public Safety Team with Othram to Identify a 2014 John Doe

After nearly a decade, the remains of a man discovered in a Washington County, Utah drainage wash has been identified as Michael Lance Milliken, born November 4, 1967.

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Published April 03 by Michael Vogen
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In September 2014, the remains of an unidentified individual were found in a remote area near Virgin, Utah. Virgin is a town in Washington County, situated along the Virgin River, and near Zion National Park. Hikers discovered skeletal remains in a drainage wash after heavy rains. Officers with the Springdale Police Department in Washington County responded to the scene and led the investigation. It was determined that the remains were that of a white male who was between the ages of 35 and 45 years at the time of his death. Investigators believe that the man’s remains were there for one to two years prior to their discovery.

In 2015, an STR profile was developed and entered into CODIS, which did not yield a match to a known individual. Details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP13357. Despite investigators' attempts to identify the man, the case went cold. In 2022, Officer Wes LiCalzi with the Springdale Police Department (SPD) requested assistance from the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS), State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) in hopes that advanced DNA testing could help to identify the man

In September 2023, the Utah Department of Public Safety submitted forensic evidence from the case to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas. Othram scientists successfully developed a DNA extract from the skeletal evidence, and then used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive genealogical profile for the unknown man. Othram’s in-house forensic genetic genealogy team then used this profile to conduct extensive genetic genealogy research, ultimately providing new investigative leads to law enforcement.

Using this new information, a follow-up investigation was conducted, leading investigators to a possible sibling of the man. Springdale Police Department facilitated the collection of a DNA sample from the man’s likely sister and returned it to Othram for comparison using KinSNP® rapid relationship testing. The comparison of the unknown man’s DNA profile to the woman believed to be his sister was a match. In March 2024, the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner officially confirmed the identity of the man as Michael Lance Milliken, originally from Texas. Milliken was born November 4, 1967. Investigators learned that Milliken travelled from Texas to Las Vegas, and ultimately to Hurricane, Utah, which is also located in Washington County. Milliken’s remains will be returned to his family who are thankful to bring their loved one home after more than a decade.

Funding for the advanced DNA testing and forensic genetic genealogy used by Othram in this case was provided by the DPS Byrnes JAG Community Project Funding (CPF) Grant, 15PBJA-23-GG-00292-BRND advocated for by Utah Congressman Burgess Owens in 2023.

Help fund another case Your contributions pay for lab supplies and research tools

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.