Bristol, TN man’s body identified using DNA tech in 44-year cold case

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WAUKESHA COUNTY, Wi. (WJHL) – Authorities say the body of a Bristol, Tennessee man has finally been identified after 44 years of investigation.

According to a press release from the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office in Wisconsin, in 1977 deputies pursued an unidentified man driving a reported stolen vehicle out of Illinois.

While the driver tried to escape, the release said he lost control and crashed. He died at the scene, and the county coroner and deputies found nothing in the car that could identify him.

“Over the years, numerous detectives from the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office and staff with the Waukesha County Medical Examiner’s Office worked on trying to identify this male who was listed as a ‘John Doe,'” the release said.

In 2015, 38 years later, the remains of the unidentified man were exhumed and DNA samples were collected. According to the release, there were no matches at the time within national databases.

Four years later in 2019, the Medical Examiner’s office gave case details and samples to the DNA Doe Project, a non-profit that focuses on using DNA technology and genetic research to discover the identity of bodies found throughout the United States.

The release said a DNA profile was uploaded to GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA, and genealogists picked up the case in 2020.

In 2021, 44 years after the man’s death in Wisconsin, investigators located a family member and matched her DNA to the man’s.

The DNA collected by investigators in 2015 linked the man to Jean Nunn, his sister. A 99.998% match of the two’s DNA let authorities finally identify the man as John Lindberg Scott of Bristol, Tennessee.

“This is an honor as his case has affected so many lives over the decades,” Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson said. “And it is a blessing to be able to finally give him his name back and offer his family some answers as to where he’s been all these years.”

Numerous agencies helped in part to discover the man’s identity:

  • Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  • Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office
  • Someday Known
  • Amherst County Sheriff’s Office
  • Hardin County Coroner’s Office
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • National Missing and Unidentified Persons System
  • DNA Doe Project
  • DNA Solutions Inc.
  • University of North Texas Center for Human Identification

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