() — Ohio investigators were trying to identify human remains found decades ago when a lead led them to identify the remains of another person found nearly 200 miles away, authorities said Monday.
Investigators now believe they have identified both sets of remains, authorities said.
“Old-fashioned detective work, modern DNA technology and a serendipitous lead offered in one case but vital in another have led to the identification of two unidentified individuals in northeastern and central Ohio,” says a statement from Ohio District Attorney Dave Yost’s Office.
In August, the Mahoning County Coroner’s Office and the Youngstown Police released facial reconstruction images of clay that an artist derived from human remains found in 1987 in Youngstown.
Anthropological analysis suggested that the remains belonged to a black man between the ages of 30 and 44. Investigators said at the time that they believed the remains had been at the site where they were discovered for three to five years.
Shortly after the images were released, Youngstown police received several leads, including one that investigators ultimately determined did not fit the Youngstown case, but did relate to a different statewide cold case in the county. of Fayette, the statement said.
In the Fayette County case, unidentified remains were discovered in 1981. The information helped the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation identify the remains as those of Theodore Long, the statement said.
“We are comforted that we no longer have to refer to this person by location, but by name: Teddy Long,” Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said.
The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Long’s death as a homicide, the statement said without elaborating. Details about how authorities believe Long died were not released.
At the same time, Youngstown detectives continued to work on their 1987 case and were eventually able to use genetic genealogy to identify the remains as those of Robert Sanders, the statement said.
Genetic genealogy compares unidentified DNA with DNA submitted to commercial databases by members of the public. In that match, investigators can find relatives of the person whose DNA doesn’t match, and can then check to see if those families have a missing person.
The statement did not include further details about Sanders’ death.
Both the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and Youngstown police are asking anyone with information about any of the investigations to contact them.