Man Identified 42 Years After He Was Found Dead Along Washington River

By Zuri Anderson

November 14, 2022

Forensic investigators have identified the remains of a man found along a Washington state river over 40 years ago, according to KIRO 7.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office has identified the person known for years as "Stilly Doe" as Othanial Philip Ames. A fisherman found Ames' remains along Stillaguamish River in Arlington on July 23, 1980. His death has puzzled investigators for ages, but thanks to modern DNA technology, they were able to identify his remains 42 years later.

“It’s like he’s come home,” Margaret Ames, Othaniel’s great-niece, told reporters. “I wondered over the years what happened to him. I hope he didn’t suffer. It’s hard to know." She was also holding a box of her great-uncle's remains during a news conference announcing Ames' identification last week.

Reporters say Ames was last seen traveling to California and Oregon on a road trip. His family members at the time described him as reclusive and withdrawn, so they just assumed he didn't come back home. Investigators believe he probably suffered a heart attack near Stillaguamish River.

The medical examiner's office started making major headway in 2021 when they teamed up with Othram, a corporation focused on forensic genealogy, per KING 5. After months of scouring DNA databases and analyzing samples, they found his relatives in Washington state. One of the family members agreed to DNA testing, and officials confirmed it was a positive match.

“It’s very gratifying to get to the answer to the puzzle when it’s that large of a puzzle,” forensic investigator Deb Scott told reporters.

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