Michigan State Police & Eaton County Sheriff's Office Team with Othram to Identify a 2009 John Doe

After over a decade, the remains of a man discovered in the Grand River located in Lansing, Michigan has been identified as William James Arthur, born May 28, 1931.

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Published April 11, 2024 by Michael Vogen
Media Inquiries


In May 2009, the remains of an unidentified individual were discovered in the Grand River located in Lansing, Michigan, which is nearly 100 miles west of Detroit. Investigators were called to the scene and discovered the individual’s remains stuck in a log jam in a secluded area behind a home. Upon further investigation, investigators determined the remains were that of an adult white male who was likely to be at least 50 years old. The man weighed approximately 190 pounds, stood 6 feet tall, and had short gray hair. The man also had a scar on his abdomen and surgical mesh in his anterior abdominal wall. The man did not have any teeth.

At the time of discovery, the man was wearing several articles of clothing including a thermal long-sleeved shirt, a short-sleeved shirt, blue and red plaid boxer-style underwear, and socks. Details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP5546. Despite investigators' efforts to identify the man, his identity remained a mystery.

In 2023, the Michigan State Police partnered with Othram to determine if advanced DNA testing could generate new leads in hopes of identifying the man. Othram scientists successfully developed a DNA extract from the forensic evidence and utilized Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the man. Othram's in-house forensic genetic genealogy team then used the profile in a genealogical search to produce investigative leads.

Using these leads, investigators conducted a follow-up investigation. This investigation led to potential genetic relatives of the man. Investigators collected a DNA sample from the potential relative for comparison against the unknown man's DNA profile. This led to the positive identification of the man as William James Arthur, born May 28, 1931. Arthur was originally from Canada and had moved to the Lansing area. His family last spoke to him in 2007. Additional information is not available at this time.

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