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John Doe (1984) from Palm Beach County is now identified

John Doe (1984) from Palm Beach County is now identified

Summary

In February 1984, the remains of an unidentified individual were discovered in the brush along U.S. Highway 27 and the New River Canal. The discovery occurred about 17 miles from the city of South Bay, Florida, in a rural area of ​​Palm Beach County. An investigation determined that the skeletal remains were those of a man who was likely between 17 and 28 years old at the time of his death. The man’s height was estimated at 6 feet 11 inches, but his weight and other identifying features could not be determined. The man was wearing a pair of white crew socks with blue stripes. Near his remains, investigators found white boxer shorts and blue jogging shorts with the number 82502 on the inside waistband. The cause of death was determined to be murder. Despite investigators’ attempts to identify the murdered man, his identity has remained a mystery for forty years.

Details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP814. A forensic mugshot showing what the man may have looked like in life was created and released to the public in hopes that it would provide new clues to the case. To finally identify Palm Beach County John Doe, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office officials worked with Othram to see if advanced DNA testing could help provide new clues to his identity.

In January 2024, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office turned over forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas. Othram scientists were able to develop a DNA extract from the forensic evidence and then use Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to create a comprehensive genealogical profile of the unidentified man. Othram’s in-house forensic genealogy team then used this profile for genetic genealogy research, ultimately providing law enforcement with new investigative lines.

Using this new information, a follow-up investigation was conducted that led investigators to possible relatives of the unknown man. Reference DNA samples were taken from a possible relative and compared to the DNA profile of the unknown man. This investigation led to the positive identification of the man as Joseph W. Newman of Toms River, New Jersey. Newman was last seen alive in the spring of 1983 and lived in the Bal Harbour, Kendall and Miami-Dade County areas of Florida.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public for help in identifying friends and/or acquaintances of Newman in Florida from the early 1980s. A person named Jamie, whose last name is unknown, is believed to have been one of Newman’s acquaintances at the time of his disappearance. Jamie was described as a black man in his mid-30s of Native American descent, muscular and of average height, who often boasted of being a football player. Jamie is believed to have been one of the last people to surround Newman before his disappearance.

Anyone with information about Joseph W. Newman is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS (8477) or Detective John Cogburn of the Sheriff’s Cold Case Unit at 561-688-4063 or email: [email protected].

The identification of Joan Shirley Joyce Waters is the 30th case in the state of Florida in which officials have publicly identified a person using technology developed by Othram. The most recent identification was in Collier County, Florida, of Joan Shirley Joyce Waters, whose remains were found in a shallow grave in 1978.

We want to thank Senator Jennifer Bradley and her colleagues in the House for advocating for funding for law enforcement to help them solve these important cases.