BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) – Benton County Sheriff’s Sergeant Shannon Jenkins says the body of John Doe was exhumed from the Bentonville cemetery Monday morning – shining a light on a 38-year-old cold case.
The body is being sent to the state crime lab to obtain DNA sampling. If successful, the samples will be sent to Parabon Nanolabs in Virginia with hopes of getting a facial recognition.
“The Golden State Killer is the most notorious example of the use of sequence data to identify a criminal,” Chris Nelson said. Nelson is a Biomedical Engineer professor at the University of Arkansas.
He says technology used to identify people and track down family history has come a long way. “Pandora’s box has been opened to an extent on the genome,” Nelson said. “It’s like our fingerprint, it’s unique to us but no longer a secret either.”
The question remains – what lead to the death of John Doe that Saturday in June of 1981. We spent hours searching for additional information about John Doe’s death in newspaper articles from 1981 and finally came across one in the Benton County Daily Democrat. It states his body had been shot at least twice and was found badly decomposed.
The article states two people found the body in underbrush about 50 yards south of U.S. Highway 62 near a railroad track. Law enforcement confirmed at the time the body had been there for a substantial period of time.
“I know that there’s been some good work to break down archival samples so I know there are people out there that can do it,” Nelson said.
The Benton County Sheriff’s Office wouldn’t release much else on John Doe’s case. We will continue to investigate.