Police using DNA to uncover over 30-yr-old murder


Investigators are hoping advances in a specific technology can provide a key clue to a man’s murder from 1988.

Nobody knows who this is. Nobody knows his name, his age or where he is from. All anyone knows is, he’s dead.

He has been dead for more than 30 years.

“I just find it terribly sad that after 30 years nobody recognizes him,” said David Mittleman with Othram Inc.

“From time to time we dust it off and take a look at it, we attempt to make contact with potential witnesses. Because we would like to get this solved,” said Lt. Dave Kendziorski from the Saginaw Police Department.

Saginaw’s John Doe was shot to death on Carroll Street in October 1988. Saginaw police believe he may have been in his late teens and from out of town.

“I suspect there are some family members out there wondering what happened,” Kendziorski said.

There are very few ways for Saginaw Police to figure out who this young man was. The big one they are banking on is DNA.

“We’re going back and looking and saying with this cutting-edge technology can we unlock even the slightest clue that could lead this case forward,” Mittleman said.

Genealogical DNA testing is what Othram Inc. will use to potentially unlock the secrets of Saginaw’s John Doe.

Othram is a laboratory in Texas. It has helped law enforcement across the country solve similar cases.

They will take this young man’s DNA and create a profile of his genetic markers. Then compare his DNA to other peoples to find distant and sometimes even close relatives.

“In a sense we’re all a genetic family, we’re all genetically related,” Mittleman said. “You just don’t know; you could very well be one of the few distant relatives that can help position this person who isn’t known onto a family tree.”

Othram has its own database of genealogical data and it uses public databases from services like 23&me and ancestry.com.

The technology Othram uses can apply to most cases where DNA evidence is gathered.

“In the future this shouldn’t be something you hear on the news as a lucky break in the case,” Mittleman said. “It should be a standard tool in the toolbox.”

Building John Doe’s DNA profile will take around 12 weeks to find his relatives and potentially his killer.

For information on how to submit your DNA to help solve similar crimes go to


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