IDAHO, USA — The Idaho County Sheriff's Office (ICSO) confirmed the identity of the remains found near an abandoned camp in Colt Killed Creek in 1984.
The ICSO received confirmation that the remains found 37 years ago near the Powell Ranger Station Roger were those of Brian Bennett, 26, "Mr. Bones," from Oklahoma.
Bennett went missing shortly after he was discharged from the U.S. Air Force in the spring of 1982. His remains were found one year after ICSO deputies found an abandoned camp near Powell in 1983.
Deputies found some personal objects and determined the camp was abandoned the previous year, but no identification or remains were found on the site. In 1984, deputies returned to the camp after hunters found skeletal remains one mile from the abandoned camp.
For more than 37 years, many attempts were made to identify the remains of Bennett. The remains were first sent for a forensic examination at a San Francisco lab where anthropologists believe the remains were of a man in his 40s. In 1986, his skull was sent to a lab in North Idaho for a more exacting attempt at a composite image.
ICSO personnel started calling Bennett “Mr. Bones" after they felt he deserved some unique personalization. ICSO investigators continued researching and working to find the identity of "Mr. Bones" over the years.
In 2010, Mr. Bone's data was entered into the NamUs database to solve the case. The NamUs website helps improve access to information to help solve missing and unidentified person cases.
Throughout the years, lab staff tried to composite images showing the possible appearance of Mr. Bones. More images made in 1985 showed a more pronounced lower jawline of Mr. Bones' face than in previous pictures.
With the help of more available modern technology over the years, investigators continued to pore through national databases of missing persons, searching for a link to identify Mr. Bones. They noticed a few negative comparisons were made over the years, and it became apparent that Mr. Bones might not have been entered as missing in a national database.
In 2022, NamUs decided to fund genetic genealogy testing and samples of Mr. Bones that were sent to a private laboratory in Othram, and they found a potential family match.
ICSO investigators contacted Cheri Pope, Mr. Bones' sibling. Cheri confirmed she had a brother named Roger Bennett, who disappeared in early 1982. Cheri and her mother, Wilma Q. Bennett, provided DNA samples that found a 99.9% match between Wilma and Mr. Bones.
On April 8, 2022, Idaho County Coroner Cody Funke concluded that Mr. Bones was Roger Brian Bennett.
According to a press release by the ICSO, Bennett was between 26 and 27 years old at the time of his disappearance. He enlisted in the Air Force and worked in a role involving mid-air refueling. He enjoyed journalism and was a National Merit semi-finalist. Bennett was discharged in early 1982.
In the last letter the family received from Bennett, he said he was being discharged from Keesler AFB in Mississippi and planned to travel to Houma, Louisiana to look for work on an offshore oil rig.
As an adolescent, Bennett was interested in the Lewis & Clark expedition and wondered what it would have been like traveling with the expedition.
His remains will be returned to his family in Oklahoma after more than 37 years and hundreds of hours of investigation.