Saginaw County Sheriff's Office Partners with Othram to Identify 2018 John Doe

The unknown man is now known to be 27-year-old Mr. Xin Rong, a PhD student at University of Michigan

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Published December 17, 2021 by Michael Vogen
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In September 2018, the owner of a wooded piece of land in Chapin Township, MI, was checking game cameras and discovered the remains of an unidentified man. The unidentified man had been fully skeletonized by the time he was discovered, suggesting a time of death at around 1-5 years prior to discovery. An autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was severe blunt force trauma. The state of decomposition made it difficult to confirm the man's physical attributes, but pathologists were able to determine that the man was likely an adult male between the ages of 25 and 55, who stood at around 5’10 feet tall. There was no definitive assessment of biogeographical ancestry. The unknown man was fully clothed and had black Sketchers work boots, a 32-inch Calvin Klein belt, and a Boston Trader’s sweatshirt.

Forensic anthropologists and police investigators believe the man's death could be a homicide. Many of his bones were broken, consistent with the unknown man being severely beaten, hit by a vehicle, or falling from a high point. Investigators are hopeful that identifying this man may lead to answers surrounding his mysterious death. The case was entered into NamUs as UP55392. Investigators exhausted all available leads, including DNA testing through CODIS.

In 2021, Det. / Sgt. Simons from the Saginaw County Sheriff's Office was referred to Othram Inc. Sgt. Simons engaged Othram and skeletal remains were sent to Othram's lab. The lab used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive genealogical profile. From genealogical search, based on the profile, Othram scientists gave Sgt. Simons information that updated the biogeographical ancestry of the unknown man to East Asian. Sgt. Simons took this information and along with Det. North searched for open cases involving missing Asian males in the state of Michigan during the time frame established earlier. A person of interest was developed: Xin Rong, a 27-year-old, Asian male, PhD student of University of Michigan, who was reported missing in 2017.

University of Michigan police were contacted, and the Xin Rong case was discussed and dental records were sent to Dr. Hefner for comparison. Dr. Hefner was able to make a positive identification, confirming that the remains belong to Mr. Xin Rong.

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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.