Authorities in Ohio said on Tuesday that they had used DNA testing to positively identify human remains found decades earlier. According to the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office, 21-year-old Robert A. Mullins from Columbus disappeared sometime between November 1988 and April 1989. His murder investigation has begun.
In recent years, law enforcement has been able to solve more cold cases thanks to advancements in DNA technology. In other news, the notorious “Boy in the Box” of Philadelphia was finally recognized 65 years later, thanks to DNA testing.
Sixty-five years later, investigators finally identified “The Boy in the Box.”
On November 1, 1991, hunters discovered Mullins’s skeleton bones in a shallow grave beside a private farm. Since then, detectives have continued to look into the situation.
Investigators thought the bones belonged to a woman due to the victim’s estimated height. Still, in 2012, scientists from North Texas University studied the remains and retrieved DNA that revealed the remains were those of a man.
The sheriff’s department claims that in 2021, a police lieutenant and the county coroner looked into genetic genealogy for clues. They hired AdvanceDNA, a company that does DNA analysis for both public and private entities, in January 2022.
At the sheriff’s office, AdvanceDNA finally met with them on the day the remains were discovered, 31 years after they were first uncovered. The company entered his DNA into a database, and with the help of the public and their investigation, authorities were able to determine that the bones belonged to Mullins.
DNA samples submitted by Mullins’s family members helped the lieutenant and coroner determine that the remains were those of their loved one
“They say that numerous attempts were made to track him down over the years, but without success. According to the sheriff’s office, “Robert’s disappearance caused great suffering for his family, particularly for his late mother Catherine, who never gave up searching for her son.”
Mullins’s family told police that he was 5-foot-3 and lived on the northeast side of Columbus when he went missing in late 1988 or early 1989, which corroborated the findings of the investigation.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost remarked, “Thirty-one Christmases have passed while this family waited for answers.” “Pickaway County law enforcement did not give up when the results were not instant, and the case grew chilly; instead, they dug in their heels and kept trying until the development of DNA technology produced an identify for John Doe.”
Lt. Johnathan Strawser of the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 740-474-2176 if anyone has information concerning the homicide.