Authorities this week identified a homicide victim whose skeletal remains were discovered along an abandoned and secluded trail in 1986.
Hunters discovered the bones near Caney Valley on August 24, 1986, according to a news release from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). The victim was identified as a Caucasian male between the ages of 30 and 40 by TBI agents and the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office. According to the University of Tennessee Anthropology Department, the man had been deceased for six months to a year before his bones were discovered.
According to the TBI, officials were unable to confirm the victim’s identification after “exhausting all leads,” thus he was branded as a John Doe.
In September 2015, the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center allegedly submitted a sample of the victim’s remains to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. The DNA profile was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System by scientists.
The TBI stated that in December 2022, officials sent a sample of the remains to Othram Inc. for forensic genetic genealogical DNA testing in the hopes of identifying the victim.
Using this testing, officials allegedly discovered possible relatives of the victim in Arkansas. The TBI said investigators “made contact with two of those individuals and confirmed they had a brother they had not heard from in more than four decades.”
The agents gathered “familial DNA standards for possible siblings of the man,” which they “submitted to the TBI Crime Lab in Knoxville for entry into CODIS.”
Last Monday, the victim was identified as Jerry Harrison of Little Rock, Arkansas, by the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. According to the TBI, Harrison’s family last heard from him in 1982, when he “began traveling across the country.”
The inquiry into Harrison’s death is still underway, and no suspects have been discovered.