Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Team with Othram to Identify a 1991 Doe

After 37 years, an individual whose skeletal remains were discovered in Humboldt County, California, has been identified as 20-year-old Milton Leon Pellegrini, Jr who died in a 1987 boating accident.

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Published July 02 by Michael Vogen
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In February 1991, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) responded to a report of human remains found at Houda Point near Trinidad. A human mandible was recovered after a search of the area. An STR profile was developed from the mandible and entered into state and national DNA databases. The DNA profile was also compared with profiles from both missing persons and other human remains cases in CODIS. Unfortunately, there was no match found to a known identity. Details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP53984. With all leads exhausted, the case eventually went cold.

In 2023, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office submitted forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas to determine if advanced DNA testing could help identify the unknown individual. Othram scientists successfully developed a DNA extract from the provided evidence and used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the individual. 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 potential relatives of the individual. Reference DNA samples for a potential relative were collected and compared to the DNA profile for the unknown individual. This investigation led to the positive identification of the individual, who is now known to be Milton Leon Pellegrini, Jr, born November 12, 1966.

In December 1987, the 70-foot commercial fishing vessel “Midnight Sun” capsized while trying to enter Humboldt Bay during a storm. Although the skipper survived, two crew members were unaccounted for and one was confirmed dead. Milton Leon Pelligrini Jr. is one of the crew members whose body was not recovered after the accident.

If you have any information regarding a missing person, or cold homicide please contact Investigator Mike Fridley at 707-441-3024.

The identification of Milton Leon Pellegrini, Jr represents the 42nd case in the State of California where officials have publicly identified an individual using technology developed by Othram. Most recently in Ventura County, California, Russell Alexander Stewart, whose remains were found in California’s Los Padres National Forest, was identified after nearly four decades.

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