Ohio authorities solve ‘mystery of 31-year-old remains’ discovered by hunters in 1991

More than three decades after hunters discovered a set of human skeletal remains near a central Ohio farm, authorities have identified the bones, formerly known as John Doe, as the former resident of Columbus, Robert A. Mullins.

The remains were originally found Nov. 1, 1991, in a shallow grave dug next to a private farm road on the north side of an interstate highway, according to an announcement released Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney General’s office. Ohio. Officials have reached a number of conclusions about the identity of the deceased over the years, many of which have been proven to be false, the office explained in a press release.

For example, the remains were initially believed to belong to an Aboriginal person, before further examination by anthropologists suggested they belonged to a woman, with an estimated height of between 5ft 1in and 5ft 4in. At the time, the attorney general’s office said, staff involved in the investigation assumed the remains had been in the ground for about three years before they were discovered.

Authorities in Ohio announced this week the identity of human skeletal remains discovered more than 31 years ago in a shallow grave dug next to a farm near Columbus. / Credit: Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office / Facebook

Over the next 31 years, investigators from the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office and the Pickaway County Coroner’s Office continued to search for answers about the identity of the skeletal remains, using DNA technology to further the investigation. business as technology advanced. Eventually, the sheriff’s and coroner’s offices partnered with AdvanceDNA, a company that focuses on genetic and forensic genealogy, which uploaded a DNA profile collected from the unidentified remains into multiple databases early in 2022.

“This is a case of scientific advancement,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said at a press conference Tuesday. “DNA is getting better all the time. In 1991, you couldn’t extract DNA from bones. That required a later advance called mitochondrial DNA.”

After spotting what authorities described as an important lead on November 1, 2022 – the 31st anniversary of the discovery – they contacted Mullins’ family members and were eventually able to match their DNA to samples taken from his remains. .

“Thirty-one Christmases have passed while this family waited for answers,” Yost said in a statement. “When the results weren’t immediate and the case went cold, Pickaway County law enforcement dug in and kept trying until the evolution of the DNA technology finally gives John Doe an identity.”

Mullins’ family reported him missing in late 1988 or early 1989, officials said. They told investigators he was about 21 at the time of his death and was 5 feet 3 inches tall, according to the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s officers thanked Mullins’ relatives for their cooperation in the case, as they are distant cousins ​​of Mullins and have never met him, the office said in a statement.

The case remains an active homicide investigation, authorities said. They ask anyone with information to report what they know to Lt. Jonathan Strawser at the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office.

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