Skull Found in Alaska Linked to Missing New York Man After 50 Years
Using genetic testing, a skull found in Alaska in 1997 has been linked to a New York man who had been pronounced missing in 1976.
According to a report by Amanda Holpuch of the New York Times, a skull found in 1997 in Alaska was linked to Gary Frank Sotherden, a New York man who went missing in 1976. Sotherden was reportedly walking along the river with a friend when he went missing, prompting a massive search effort that turned up nothing.
Then in 1997, a skull was found by a hunter near the river where Sotherden went missing, which the hunter turned over to the police. After genetic testing was performed on the skull, state troopers confirmed that it belonged to Sotherden, and that they suspected that he was mauled by a bear.
According to the New York Times report, investigators used DNA testing to match the skull to Sotherden's second cousin. They then created a family tree and got in contact with Sotherden's brother, Stephen. Investigators told him that the skull had been found near the river where Sotherden had gone missing, and asked him to test his DNA for a match.
Stephen agreed to have his DNA tested, and provided investigators with a 23andMe test he had recently done. Investigators used that DNA test to confirm that the skull was his brother's. Stephen said "We've been working on it for 45 years, and it's nice that things came to a conclusion. It was a little more brutal that I was hoping for."