John Doe Remains from Grisly 1982 Twinsburg Case Identified using Investigative Genetic Genealogy
December 15, 2021
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After almost 40 years, Twinsburg detective and DNA Doe Project genealogists identify the remains of a young, African American man discovered behind a business on Cannon Road in Twinsburg, Ohio.
Twinsburg, OH – The partial remains of an African American male discovered in 1982 in Twinsburg, Ohio have been identified as Frank Little, Jr. Detective Eric Hendershott of the Twinsburg police partnered with the DNA Doe Project to locate potential relatives of the John Doe based on DNA samples taken from the remains, which showed evidence of stabbing, blunt force trauma, and postmortem fire. At the time of discovery, authorities believed the man had been dead for several years.
Mr. Little, born August 23, 1943, had lost contact with his family when he was in his 20’s. Investigators in 1982 theorized that he or his killer may have worked in the former Chrysler Stamping Plant in Twinsburg, but they were unable to confirm his identity. The case went cold, but the third detective to take over, Eric Hendershott, was determined to generate new leads and reached out to the DNA Doe Project in December, 2018. The DNA profile uploaded to GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA generated no close family matches, but did identify Laurens County, South Carolina as a possible location of the John Doe’s relations.
Volunteer genealogists with the DNA Doe Project constructed over 70 family trees while trying to narrow a list of more than 4,000 distant matches. The case was finally solved after familial matches submitted DNA samples and Detective Hendershott was able to locate a cousin who remembered some details about Mr. Little.
“It was a particular pleasure to co-lead this case with Dt. Hendershott from the Twinsburg Police Department. Our tight-knit researching group synergized well, and that sustained us through a long-haul and into pandemic times,” shared team leader L. Elias Chan. “Right out of the gate, the two top matches had unknown paternity. Eventually we were able to tease out important family groups that intersected with Twinsburg John Doe’s. From those, we began to systematically look for people to volunteer to upload to GEDmatch or FTDNA with the hope of narrowing the family groups further. All of us would like to extend heartfelt condolences to Frank’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
DDP wishes to acknowledge the contributions of those groups and individuals who helped solve this case: Detective Eric Hendershott of the Twinsburg, Ohio Police Department; the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation forensics team for DNA extraction; HudsonAlpha Discovery for DNA sequencing; Greg Magoon of Full Genomes Corp. for bioinformatics; GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA for providing their databases; our generous donors; and our extraordinary team of DDP investigative genetic genealogists.
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 the organization relies on donations to fund lab costs when agencies cannot afford them. To date DDP has made over 70 identifications. Discover more at https://dnadoeproject.org/ .
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