In December 2014, a hiker discovered human remains in a wooded area just south of Newport, Washington off Highway 2. The Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene and determined that there did not appear to be any suspicious circumstances. The area near the railroad tracks where the remains were found was known to be frequented by transient individuals. It appeared that the individual may have been transient. The following items were found near the remains: a single black boot size 13 with a brand name listed as "BRAHMA," a navy and red striped stocking cap, pants with a size of 48-inch waist and 30-inch inseam, a plaid button up shirt with the size of XXXL with a brand name of "FADED GLORY" and a red fleece style zip up hooded jacket. A gold rimmed pair of eyeglasses were also located. The Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office canvassed several local homeless shelters in the region in an attempt to identify this individual.
In December 2014, an autopsy was conducted by the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office and due to the age of the skeletal remains, they were sent to the King County Medical Examiner's Office for examination by the Washington State Forensic Anthropologist the late Dr. Kathy Taylor. Dr. Taylor performed an examination of the remains and determined that they belonged to a middle-aged Caucasian male. The male likely would have had significant degenerative disease or arthritis that would have impacted his ability to walk.
Dental information was submitted to the Washington State Patrol's Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit and was uploaded to NCIC in the hopes of a dental match with a known missing person. NCIC is the FBI's National Crime Information Center database which is a computerized index that tracks crimes and missing persons and allows other law enforcement jurisdictions across the country to view details about the case and compare them against their own missing persons cases. No NCIC dental matches were made. In May 2015, DNA extraction was completed by the University of North Texas Health Science Center and uploaded to the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). CODIS is a database designed to compare DNA profiles from missing persons to DNA from family reference samples and certain convicted offenders and arrestees.
In June 2015, the case information was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP13951. NamUs is a federal database funded by the National Institute of Justice that contains information on missing, unidentified, and unclaimed persons cases from across the country. Dental records and fingerprints, when available, can also be uploaded to a NamUs file which can then be compared against known missing persons nationwide who have had their own dental profiles and/or fingerprints uploaded.
In December 2016, forensic artist Natalie Murry took measurements and photographs and drew a facial reconstruction of what the decedent may have looked like in life. The drawing is not meant to be a photograph and is the artist's interpretation of what the decedent may have looked like, based on facial morphology. The hope is that someone will see a resemblance or likeness to their missing person and provide leads that will help identify the person. In February of 2017, Carl Koppelman also completed a facial reconstruction on behalf of the Pend Oreille County Coroner's Office.
From 2015 to 2023, the Pend Oreille County Coroner's Office with the assistant of the Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office and Forensic Odontologist Dr. Gary Bell ruled out several missing persons by circumstances and dental records.
In September 2022, the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office invited the Pend Oreille County Coroner's Office to join in a collaboration with Othram to obtain an advanced DNA profile, suitable for investigative genetic genealogy, for our unsolved cold case. In October 2022, skeletal remains were sent to Othram's laboratory for additional testing so that Othram could build a DNA profile that could be uploaded to genealogical databases.
In January 2023, Othram successfully obtained a DNA extract that was sufficient for testing. Othram used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the unknown man and Othram's in-house genealogy team used the DNA profile in a forensic genetic genealogy research to generate investigative leads. Othram genealogists worked together with Nicole Hamada, a death investigator with the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office, to find possible relatives. DNA reference testing of Randall's brother ultimately confirmed that the decedent was Randall Reed Priborsky. The Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office was able to determine that Randall had been in the Oldtown, Idaho area in 2008.
It was reported that Randall was last in contact with family in 2003. Randall was born in Sioux City, lowa and enjoyed reading. The circumstances of his disappearance are not known. On July 28, 2023, Pend Oreille County Coroner Dolly Hunt officially identified the decedent as Randall Reed Priborsky.
The Pend Oreille County Prosecutor/Coroner's Office would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their assistance in this case: Othram, Inc., the Pend Oreille County Sherriff's and Sergeant Mitch Parnell, the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office and Investigator Nicole Hamada, the King County Medical Examiner's Office and the late Dr. Katherine Taylor, Forensic Anthropologist, D.r Andrew Seidel, Forensic Anthropologist, Forensic Artists Natalie Murry and Carl Koppelman, Forensic Odontologist Dr. Gary Bel, the Washington State Patrol Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit, the Washington State Patrol Crime Scene Response Team, NamUs, the Woodbury County Sheriff's Office, the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center and Randall's relatives for sharing their DNA, family history and photographs to help solve this nine year mystery.