DNA Doe Project: After 36 Years Genetic Genealogists Provide A Name

DNA Doe Project: After 36 Years Genetic Genealogists Provide A Name

After 36 Years Genetic Genealogists Provide a Name


Giddings, Texas – October 23, 2020 – The Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) and the DNA Doe Project (DDP) announce the identity of a man whose remains were found in a field about five miles west of Giddings in November 1984 as James L. Hamm born April 9, 1949 in Escanaba, MI.  

Over the years following the discovery of the skeletal remains, LCSO and the Texas Rangers made a number of attempts to identify the individual. In May 2019 Sheriff Rodney Meyer and Texas Ranger Brent Barina consulted with Kevin Lord of DDP regarding investigative genetic genealogy to identify the remains.

In August 2019 DNA from the University of North Texas was sent to HudsonAlpha Discovery (Huntsville, AL) for whole genome sequencing, with Dr Gregory Magoon subsequently handling bioinformatics. Data was uploaded to GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA, and a team of volunteers began investigative genetic genealogy research. By June 2020 DDP’s volunteer genetic genealogists were able to provide information that led to a potential relative who was willing to provide a DNA sample to confirm James Hamm’s identification.

DDP wishes to acknowledge the contributions of those groups and individuals who helped solve this case: Lee County Sheriff Rodney Meyer and Texas Ranger Brent Barina for entrusting the case to us; University of North Texas for extraction, testing, and comparison; HudsonAlpha for sequencing; Dr. Magoon, contracting through Full Genomes Corporation, for bioinformatics; DNA Solutions for developing a reference profile; GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA for providing their databases; and DDP’s dedicated team of volunteer genealogists who provided LCSO with an identification. We also want to thank our donors for their generous assistance in bringing this case to fruition.

In addition, the DDP team wishes to thank Dr. Scott Swanson, Professor of History at Butler University, for his extraordinary assistance in providing us with much of his genealogical research and knowledge of genetic heritage that factored into this case.

About the DNA Doe Project

The DNA Doe Project, Inc. is an all volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to identify John and Jane Does and return them to their families. The genealogy research is pro bono, but it relies on donations to fund lab costs when agencies cannot afford them. To date DDP has made approximately thirty confirmed identifications, including a 1982 Barron County homicide victim announced in January 2020. Discover more at https://dnadoeproject.org/ .

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