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Undeciphered: Body discovered on Galveston beach in May 2020 remains a mystery


GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) – When a body washes up on the west coast of Galveston Island, police produce a sketch asking: do you know this man? That was two years ago. Today, his face remains a mystery. But now, forensic genealogists say: they will identify him.

911 calls come in on Mother’s Day 2020 mid-afternoon.

“Uh, yes,” the man stammered. “I would like to report a body on Kahala Beach in Galveston, Texas.”

“I don’t know if it’s male or female?” a dispatch woman asks for a second caller.

“I don’t know,” replied the woman, who said she was calling from her beach house. “I really don’t want to look and people are going up and taking pictures.”

The man had no identification on him. He was wearing a regular, black pair of swimming trunks and underneath were black Calvin Klein briefs. Galveston police officer Dannie Simpson shared crime scene photos with the Unsolved team, which have not been seen by the public until now.

But perhaps the most telling of them all is the men’s Under Armor size 11 panties worn on the man’s hand.

Simpson said: “He was swimming and could have tried to use them as a flotation device.

An autopsy later revealed that the man had indeed drowned. He’s 5’5″, maybe in his twenties, but who is he?

Simpson said current that day might have brought him in from the direction of the Bolivar Peninsula, Simpson says the US Coast Guard suggested it to him.

Investigators were waiting for a call from someone who may be looking for the man. But no call came. Months passed, then two years. The case turned cold. Then the phone finally rang.

“(I think) this could help me with this case,” Simpson said.

That’s a scientist from Othram, the private genetics lab in The Woodlands, who says they can build this DNA profile for this John Doe – and do it pretty quickly. Once the profile is built, forensic genealogists will begin working to trace his family.

Simpson thinks it’s worth a try.

Othram posted this case on its crowdfunding site: DNAsolves.com. They need $5,000 to do the test. Over the past year, people across the country have donated. Now, the case has been funded.

Kristen Mittelman told Othram: ‘I know for a fact that within a few weeks we will have the DNA profile of this man.

Othram couldn’t say how long it might take those genetic genealogists to find this John Doe family.

“He’ll be identified and we’ll find out what’s going on,” Mittelman said. “I can’t tell you the number of cases we’ve solved where Jane and John Doe turned into an investigation that led to someone’s arrest and conviction.”

Simpson hopes that on Mother’s Day, a grieving family will have an answer: “Somewhere out there is a mother looking for a son and we want – at least give her some closure. closed to that.”

For more on the Unsolved series, follow Courtney Fischer on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Share your loved one’s story with Courtney Fischer of ABC13 here.

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