Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Collaborates with Othram to Identify John Doe Found in North Washington River

With all leads exhausted, this man’s identity has been a mystery for 40 years


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Published March 19, 2021 by Michael Vogen
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A young man made a tragic discovery while fly-fishing on the Stillaguamish River in July 1980. The body of an unidentified man, known as "Stilly Doe", was found caught on a logjam in the river approximately ½ mile northwest of the Stillaguamish River Bridge on Interstate-5. Circumstances surrounding the man’s death remain unclear. An autopsy determined he was suffering from coronary heart disease but drowning could not be ruled out as his cause of death. The advanced state of decomposition of the man's remains led investigators to determine he had been dead for approximately three months and was in the water for a significant portion of this period.

He was found wearing a red flannel shirt, a dark suit-type jacket with cotton trousers, and black oxford-style shoes. He wore a size 40 leather belt with the letters, G-R-N, on the buckle, possibly his initials. It was estimated that at the time of his death he was less than 60 years old with graying hair, weighed approximately 150 pounds, and was about 5’6’’ tall. He did not match missing persons cases in the area and the initials on his belt did not provide investigators with any significant leads.

A 2018 anthropological analysis of the man’s remains suggested that he was possibly of Native American descent. The Stillaguamish river where the man was found gets its name from the indigenous Stillaguamish Tribe that settled in northwest Washington and lived along the river. The anthropological analysis was updated, along with an updated forensic facial reconstruction, in 2021, in part because of initial DNA testing which showed no evidence of an indigenous background. Snohomish County investigators circulated the man's forensic reconstruction in the area but to date have been unable to develop any new leads.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s and Medical Examiner’s Offices have partnered with Othram to use Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to determine the identity of the man, or find his nearest relative. They have previously partnered with Othram to successfully identify Lake Stickney John Doe. If you have any information that might aid the investigation, call the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 425-388-3845. This case is logged in NamUs as #UP17865.

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Stilly John Doe gets an updated forensic facial reconstruction

March 19, 2022

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office has provided an updated forensic facial reconstruction for Stilly John Doe, based in part on preliminary DNA testing.

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.