Millard County Sheriff's Office Teams with Othram to Identify 1958 John Doe

Investigators are working to identify human remains found in the Utah desert 65 years ago.


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Published November 01, 2023 by Michael Vogen
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In 1958, the remains of an unknown individual were found in Kanosh, Utah, a small desert town in Millard County. In 1979, the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office was notified about the existence of the remains. While records indicate the individual's remains were discovered in 1958, it is not known who discovered the remains or where they were stored prior to the Medical Examiner’s Office receiving them twenty-one years later. The remains were stored without any clues to help determine who the unknown person may be. In 2020, more than sixty-years after the remains were discovered, a forensic anthropology analysis was completed. It was determined that the skeletal remains are likely that of a White male, estimated to be between 5’8” and 6’2” tall, who at the time of his death was between 25 and 35 years old.

The anthropological assessment determined that the decedent experienced skeletal trauma during his life. While estimates of an individual’s lifestyle and occupation are not routinely estimated when examining skeletal remains, the extent of healed injuries that were sustained during the man’s life indicate that he may have been a working cowboy or rodeo athlete. Additionally, the man may have had a condition in which the knees tilt inward while the ankles remain spaced apart, commonly referred to as “knock-kneed.”

It is speculated that these remains could be that of Everett Ruess, an American artist, poet, and writer who was known to be exploring the Utah deserts in the 1930s when he went missing. However, with the passing of decades and the lack of identifying characteristics or other information, the identity of the man is unknown. In 2020, details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as #UP64653.

In 2023, the Millard County Sheriff’s Office teamed with Othram to determine if advanced DNA testing could help to finally identify the remains of the John Doe. Anyone who may assist in the investigation is encouraged to contact the Millard County Sheriff’s Office and reference agency case number 197900337 or NamUs ID #UP64653.

A DNASolves crowdfund has been established to cover the remaining casework costs. Anyone can contribute here. We are grateful for your support.

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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 to learn how we can help you with your case. With anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.