GLEN BURNIE, MD. (WJZ) — Roger Hearne Kelso went missing from his Glen Burnie home in 1963 when he was around 20-years-old, leaving a note saying he was in pursuit of a new job.
“My whole life with my mother and my siblings, we always wondered, ‘Where are you?'” said Heather Sackett, his sister.
His younger sisters, Heather and Gail, said their brother was not one to miss a family gathering. So when he didn’t return home, that’s when the worry set in.
“It’s been in the county for years,” said Anne Arundel County Detective Regina Collier.
Anne Arundel County Police found Roger’s remains in a dumpster at the construction site of the Marley Station Mall in 1985, but they had no idea who they belonged to.
“Because he was unknown for so long, everyone wanted to know who he was and what his story was,” Collier said.
Collier said in 2015, they got the break they had been waiting for.
A company out of Reston, Virginia, called Parabon Nanolabs used the DNA from the human remains to construct a composite sketch of what the unidentified person likely looked like. The process is called phenotyping.
From there, a genetic genealogist uploaded the DNA to a public file called Jed Match and compared it to about a million other people who opt into the website, eventually locating some of Roger’s distant cousins.
The genealogist was then able to reverse engineer their family tree.
“For many of these very old cold cases, there are families, detectives and the community that has been yearning for answers or even detectives and investigative genealogy can finally provide those answers,” said Cece Moore, Chief Genetic Genealogist of Parabon Nanolabs.
“To get this closure, we are so incredibly grateful,” his sisters said.
Roger’s case is still an open homicide investigation. Police are trying to get in contact with old classmates or anyone who may have known his whereabouts at the time of his disappearance.
Anyone with information is asked to call the tipline which goes directly to the homicide unit.