GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) – The Mesa County Coroner provided a link to KREX in the hopes that members of the public would donate to assist pay for lab materials and research equipment to identify an individual from a 2011 case.
A skull was found in Mesa County, in the remote region of Umcompaghre Plateau in October 2011 by a Colorado Mesa University professor and a group of students. On the Plateau a few hundred yards off Divide Road, close to the Colorado town of Whitewater, the students, environmental science majors, were working on a field study involving fire control. The skull belonged to an adult male, which the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office was able to identify, but there were few further clues that could be gathered from incomplete bones. The height, weight, or other characteristics of the unidentified male were unknown. How and when the unidentified man passed away are also unknown.
Investigators have tirelessly explored several leads over the past ten years in an effort to identify the individual. The skull was first removed from the bone remains and given to forensic anthropologists, who concluded that it was unrelated to any countywide missing person investigations. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation tested DNA in December 2011 and was able to establish a STR profile; however, a check of law enforcement databases turned up no matches. The missing person case was added to the National Missing and Unidentified Person Systems in 2020. The case has the case number #UP64014. Law enforcement made extensive efforts to identify the individual, but they were unsuccessful, and the case was left unsolved.
In September 2022, Othram and the Mesa County Coroner’s Office collaborated to see if advanced forensic DNA testing might assist identify the individual or a close relative. Using forensic-grade genome sequencing, Othram will create an extensive DNA profile that the team will utilize for genealogical research.
Call the Mesa County Coroner’s Office at 970-244-1898 and mention agency case C19-778 if you have any information that might help with this investigation. Everybody is welcome to donate to the DNASolves fund, which has been established to help cover the costs of DNA testing and genealogical research by clicking here.