Skeletal remains found down an embankment 35 years ago have been identified as a missing Mississippi teen, according to a California sheriff’s office.
Marty Robin Rupar went missing in 1983 at the age of 17, according to his family, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office said in a Thursday, May 18, Facebook post. He was last known to live in Mississippi.
Five years later in 1988, hikers found partial skeletal remains of an adult male inside two garbage bags “down the ravine of a cliff ... in the Bonny Doon area in an illegal dump site,” according to The Doe Network
Deputies said the identity of the remains was unknown at the time.
An autopsy showed the man had died by homicide, but no one was ever arrested in relation to the case, the sheriff’s office said.
For the next 35 years, the unidentified man would be known only as “John Doe,” the sheriff’s office said.
Then, in 2020, the county coroner’s office began looking into identifying the remains of “John Doe” using forensic genetic genealogy, the sheriff’s office said.
Genetic genealogy uses DNA testing coupled with “traditional genealogical methods” to create “family history profiles,” according to the Library of Congress. With genealogical DNA testing, researchers can determine if and how people are biologically related.
After partnering with a number of agencies, including Parabon Nanolabs and the Menominee County Sheriff’s Office, the remains were positively identified as Rupar, deputies said.
The sheriff’s office said it is still looking into Rupar’s death, asking anyone with information to call 831-454-7630.