SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane Police Department (SPD) announced Friday they have solved another cold case, the second in a number of months.
A grant to use genetic genealogy to identify human remains allowed the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office to identify a man found in a Spokane railroad tunnel more than 40 years ago. Thanks to DNA testing from the victim's relatives, the man was identified as Donald Leroy Pearson.
In 1980, a man's body was found by three people walking under a railroad tunnel on East Trent Avenue. The body reportedly had traumatic injuries with burn marks and head trauma, but no identification. No missing persons report matched his description.
After the Spokane Medical Examiner's Office received a grant to use genetic genealogy to help identify a body, a forensic lab, Othram Inc., was successful in locating potential leads to relatives of the victim.
SPD and the Medical Examiner's Office were able to locate the unidentified man's son in Missouri, who offered to provide a DNA sample.
That DNA sample confirmed John Doe was actually Donald Leroy Pearson. Pearson was born in 1924 and was 56 when he died. Pearson was born in Nebraska with no left living siblings and distant children; according to SPD.
The same genetic genealogy process also led SPD in February to identify a woman whose body was pulled from the Spokane River back in 1984. Identified as Ruth Belle Waymire, her husband had not been ruled out as a suspect in her death.
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