The remains of a 78-year-old man who left his home to go for a walk in 1991 and never returned have been identified after New Hampshire authorities used modern DNA testing technology, the state attorney general’s office said Thursday.
Benjamin Adams left his home in Canaan that June and his family said he had been suffering from dementia. After search efforts were unsuccessful, he was listed as a missing person.
In November 1996, a hunter discovered some skeletal remains in the woods in Hanover, nearly 20 miles away. Additional bones were discovered after the area was searched. Due to the vicinity of Adams’ last known location, investigators suspected the remains might be his, the attorney general’s office said in a news release.
An out-of-state forensic anthropologist examined the remains in 1997. The examination indicated that the biological characteristics were not inconsistent with those of Adams, but a positive identification could not be made, the news release said.
The New Hampshire State Police Major Crime and Cold Case units, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the University of New Hampshire Forensic Anthropology Identification and Recovery Lab recently examined the case and reached out to Adams’ son to obtain a sample of his DNA.
That sample, along with certain skeletal remains, were then sent to a private contract lab for DNA comparison testing, officials said. The lab confirmed the probability of relatedness is “at least 99.999998%” and the DNA evidence is “at least 42 million times” more likely to be from “a biological parent as compared to untested and unrelated individuals,” the news release said.
The medical examiner’s office is in the process of reunifying Adams’ remains with his family, the attorney general’s office said.
“This case emphasizes the state’s dedication to utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to investigate unidentified and missing persons cases,” the office said.
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