County coroner asks for help to solve Allentown cold case
Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim and Allentown Police Department officials called a news conference on Aug. 17 to unveil updated information and imaging regarding long unidentified skeletal remains.
The remains were discovered 7:15 p.m. April 28, 1991, in a wooded area, 430 feet beyond an access road off Albert Street, Allentown.
An autopsy was performed April 29, 1991, by Dr. Isadore Mihalakis, who determined the remains were of a male between 25 to 35 years of age.
Due to the condition of the remains, Mihalakis was unable to determine the cause of death and listed it as “undetermined by unnatural.”
According to Grim, in June 1991 the remains were sent to the Department of Defense Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Delaware for anthropological analysis and a clay facial reconstruction.
In 2017, the Lehigh County Coroner’s Office attempted to further this case by applying modern forensics that were not available in 1991.
The case was assigned to Morgue Manager Ray Anthony, who began working with Allentown Police Detective Ray Sannie and Detective Thomas McAndrew, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Task Force.
McAndrew previously had partnered with Dr. Erin H. Kimmerle, of the University of South Florida Anthropology Laboratory on similar cases.
Kimmerle secured a grant from the National Institute of Justice to provide funds for forensic anthropological analysis of unidentified remains.
Due to Kimmerle’s efforts in acquiring the grant, the remains were sent in February 2017, to the USF‐FAL for the purpose of anthropological analyses for:
·Reassessment of the biological profile (i.e. age at death, sex, ancestry and stature);
·Assessment for any trauma;
·Geochemical isotope analysis for identification; and
·Submission of bone and tooth samples for DNA analysis.
With the advent of modern investigative tools and working with Kimmerle, it was determined John Doe was an African-American male, 30 and 45 years, between 5 feet, 5 inches and 5 feet, 8 inches tall.
The remains showed the man suffered several fractures to his face which likely occurred within a year of his death.
Due to the healing process, the bones became deformed.
These deformities would have been observable as asymmetry in the nose.
The decedent has a gap between his front teeth and was missing the lateral incisors next to the front teeth.
In addition, it was determined John Doe had a prior injury to his right ankle.
It could not be determined if the trauma contributed to the man’s death.
It is believed the man died between spring 1989 and spring 1990.
This data was collected using a technique called geochemical isotope analysis of the person’s bones, teeth and hair, a technology unavailable in 1991.
For example, geochemical isotope analysis can determine where an individual was born and spent his or her life.
That analysis was done on these skeletal remains by extracting samples from teeth and bones to find the chemical elements and corresponding isotopes ingested through food and local water.
Based on the isotope analysis, it is likely the man was born in the southern regions of the United States, probably south Florida or central Texas.
It also appeared he had spent the greater portion of his life in the northeastern U.S. to the Midwest, possibly in the Allentown area.
According to Grim, the skeletal remains were clothed when discovered. Among the apparel which was found were white with red accent, size 10 and a half “Brooks Unique” brand high-top sneakers, without laces.
A handwritten numeral “6” appears on the heel notch above the logo.
For additional information concerning this and other unidentified person cases, the public is encouraged to visit the National Missing Person and Unidentified Person System at namus.gov.
Anyone with information about John Doe’s identity or the circumstances surrounding his death is asked to contact Deputy Coroner Ray Anthony at 610-782-3426; Allentown Police Detective Ray Sannie at 610-437-7721 or Detective Thomas McAndrew with the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office at 610-782-3100.