The Missing Piece Episode 3: Rodney Johnson (Lake Stickney John Doe)


The search for answers began in 1994 when a fisherman discovered a body in the lake. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s office determined the deceased to be between 25 and 35 years old and the victim of a violent homicide. Multiple varied facial reconstructions were made for the victim over the years, in part because ethnicity assessment was inconclusive. Each artistic rendition was shared with the public in hopes that someone would recognize the victim and come forward with information.


Detective Scharf and Investigator Jorgensen reached out to Othram to perform DNA testing. Despite having less than a fifth of a nanogram (less than 20 cell’s worth) of badly degraded and heavily contaminated human DNA to work with (a scenario currently inaccessible by any other forensic lab), Othram’s scientists were able to reconstruct a genealogical profile.


After uploading the genealogical profile to a public genealogical database, a match was identified, allowing Othram’s internal laboratory team and investigators to establish an identification: Rodney Johnson.



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