In November 2019, the skeletal remains of an unknown person were discovered by hunters in Custer Gallatin National Forest located in south-central Montana's Stillwater County. Investigators with the Stillwater County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene, recovering the remains from a remote area near West Rosebud Lake. The remains were transferred to forensic anthropologists for examination. Investigators estimated that the unknown individual was male and between fifty and seventy years old at his time of death. It was estimated that the man was approximately 5.5’ to 6’ in height. No other identifying information for the remains was available.
In 2020, details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP65069. Despite their efforts, investigators were unable to identify the man, and the case eventually went cold.
In March 2022, the Stillwater County Sheriff's Office teamed with Othram to identify the unknown man. Skeletal remains were sent to Othram’s laboratory in The Woodlands, Texas. Othram scientists developed a DNA extract from the remains and then used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the unknown man. This DNA profile was used by Othram's in-house genetic genealogy team to generate investigative leads that were returned to law enforcement.
After a thorough investigation and assistance from the State of Montana Medical Examiner’s Office, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), and Othram Inc., the remains were identified as Michael Moler. Moler, who was born in Columbus, Montana, on September 19, 1956, was an Army veteran. Moler will be buried at Yellowstone National Cemetery in Laurel, Montana with military honors. The investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Moler’s death continues. At this time, no foul play is suspected.