In January 1985, children playing in a heavily wooded area discovered unidentified human remains near a canal bank. Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (PBSO) and the Medical Examiner’s Office collected the remains and investigated the scene. The identity of the remains was unknown and the case was ruled a homicide. At the time of discovery, DNA was entered in the FBI's CODIS database, but no match was found. Details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP830. Multiple forensic facial reconstructions were developed, but none of these images led to the identification of the homicide victim and with leads exhausted, the case eventually went cold.
In 2022, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office sent skeletal remains for the unidentified homicide victim to Othram. Othram scientists developed a suitable DNA extract from the skeletal remains and used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile. Othram's in-house forensic genetic genealogy team used the profile in a genealogical search to produce investigative leads.
The investigative leads were returned to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and a follow up investigation determined that the 1985 homicide victim is Terry Ketron, born February 12, 1953 and originally from Campbell County, Kentucky. Further inquiry into Mr. Ketron’s background indicated that he traveled to south Florida in the early 1980’s from the State of Kentucky with a female companion named Connie or Bonnie (last name unknown). Ketron last spoke to his family via phone where he shared information that he was having problems with his girlfriend and her family members. Ketron’s family had not heard from him since that phone call and his whereabouts were unknown.
PBSO Cold Case Detectives are seeking the public’s assistance with identifying Terry Ketron’s female companion who traveled with him to Florida or any other friends/associates known to him. Anyone with information is urged to contact Detective John Cogburn at 561-688-4063 or by email at CogburnJ@pbso.org.
Funding for the advanced DNA testing and forensic genetic genealogy used in this case was provided by NamUs, a national clearinghouse that assists the criminal justice community with the investigation and resolution of missing, unidentified, and unclaimed persons cases across the United States and its territories. NamUs is funded and administered by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and is managed through a contract with Research Triangle Institute International. We are grateful for the support of RTI, NamUs, and the NIJ.