Remains of a homicide victim discovered in the Wisconsin woods more than 37 years ago have been identified as those of a White Bear Lake man, authorities said.
Decomposed human remains found near Hwy. 25 in Barron County, Wis., in 1982 were identified as Kraig King, of White Bear Lake, said Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald.
“Through the advancement of technology, [the] DNA process and working with groups like the Department of Criminal Investigation and the DNA Doe Project, were able to get DNA, match it through genealogy and were able to come up with a positive hit on the subject,” Fitzgerald said. “We were able to identify Kraig King.”
On Sept. 21, 1982, a group of loggers found a pile of clothes in the woods near the tree line by Hwy. 25. They notified law enforcement, who determined the pile to be badly decomposed human remains.
An autopsy estimated the victim’s time of death to have been between April and May of 1982.
“They did some work with pathologists in the crime lab at that time and we’ve had the bones here at the sheriff’s department for 37 years,” Fitzgerald said.
The King case was one of two cases of unidentified remains that were submitted in partnership with the DNA Doe Project. The nonprofit volunteer organization works to identify the deceased with forensic genealogy. After uploading King’s DNA to the GEDmatch database on Dec. 12, they had a match almost immediately, said forensic genealogist Jenny Lecus.
“It was our fastest solve, it was solved really within a couple of hours,” Lecus said.
Most cases take a few months before they are solved. One DNA Doe Project case took 19 months, Lecus said. As the success of cases like King’s spreads to other law enforcement agencies, the work of forensic genealogists only grows, she added.
“It’s been a long time that he hasn’t had his name. And now he has it again,” she said.
King’s family members, who still live in the White Bear Lake area, have been notified, Fitzgerald said.
“There’s some closure to the case for them. I mean, they haven’t seen their son for 37 years,” he said.
The King case remains a murder investigation. Family members could not be reached for comment.
A September 1982 article in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram said the victim was killed by three chest puncture wounds. Authorities at that time suspected that the victim was not killed at the scene.
“We don’t know if the murder happened here or White Bear Lake or somewhere in between, but we’re working that end of it now,” Fitzgerald said.
The department is asking the public for any information on King and why he would have been in Barron County in 1982.
“Obviously it was 37 years ago, but somebody knows something,” Fitzgerald said
Those with information can contact the Barron County Sheriff’s Department at 715-537-3106.
Detectives are already working on the tips they have received.