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West Manchester Twp. police release new images of what homicide victim John Doe might have looked like

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
  • Anyone with information about the man's identity is asked to call West Manchester Township Police at 717-792-9514 and ask for Sgt. Krout.

New DNA technology has revealed that an unidentified homicide victim whose skeletal remains were found in West Manchester Township in 2013 is primarily Black and could have relatives in North Carolina, according to police.

Investigators previously thought John Doe was white, perhaps Hispanic, but the DNA Doe Project determined he is of 75% sub-Saharan African descent, West Manchester Township Police announced Wednesday.

"This means our victim was black and may have had a Caucasian great-grandparent or great-great grandparent in the family line," a police news release states. "Results based on this new information are showing in the genealogy websites of distant family in the North Carolina area and surrounding states."

Based on the new DNA information, forensic artist Jenny Kenyon of Penn State University's Digital Fabrication and Specialized Technologies Department created two new renderings of how the victim might have looked, police said.

But they warned that these renditions might not be exact likenesses. For example, police said, the person might have a different skin tone or different hairstyle.

One of the renditions shows John Doe with fractures to the bones of his left eye and the left side of his nose, police said; the other shows him without those injuries.

Prior isotope testing that indicates the victim was born and raised in the southeastern United States falls in line with the new DNA findings, police said.

This is an updated artist's rendition of a homicide victim whose skeletal remains were found in 2013. New DNA findings indicate he was 75% sub-Saharan African, police said.

The background: In November 2013, a tree-trimming crew discovered a full set of skeletal remains just off Loucks Road near the intersection of Carlisle Road (Route 74) in West Manchester Township.

Since then, West Manchester Township Police have determined the man was a victim of homicide but have declined to make public his cause of death.

Experts and scientists also have determined the man was likely between 35 and 45 years old and 5-feet-5 to 5-feet-8.

He wore an inexpensive upper dental plate and was missing some teeth in the upper right side of his mouth, officials have said.

He also suffered serious head trauma that broke his nose and the orbital bone around his left eye. However, police said the wound had healed or was healing, meaning it was unrelated to his death.

This is an updated artist's rendition of a homicide victim whose skeletal remains were found in 2013. New DNA findings indicate he was 75% sub-Saharan African, police said.

Muscular neck, jaw: The trauma left the victim with an asymmetrical face, according to Kenyon, who previously created a clay reconstruction of what the man's face could have looked like. Police made that clay rendition public at a 2018 news conference.

At that news conference, Kenyon said the man was thin but had a muscular neck and muscular jawline.

Township Sgt. Lance Krout, the lead investigator in the case, has said that testing and examination determined the victim spent his last decade in or around Pennsylvania.

The victim's information has been added to NamUs, a national database of missing persons, Krout told reporters.

Undiscovered for years: Forensic experts estimate John Doe's body was lying in a brushy area a few feet off Loucks Road near the intersections of Haviland Road and Route 74 for between three and 10 years — and perhaps for as long as 18 or 20 years, according to Krout.

"There's a very good possibility this subject didn't live in the area," he said.

The body was in a culvert that hid it from the view of passing drivers, police said.

The victim's underwear was still with the skeletal remains, according to Krout, and it was a size small.

Asked whether John Doe was killed where his remains were found or whether his body was dumped there after he was killed, the officer has said investigators have opinions but can't yet discuss them publicly.

The York County Forensics Team did a second investigation at the site where skeletal remains were found in November 2013. West Manchester Twp. Police said it's not uncommon for investigators to return to a scene to do a second search for evidence.
(Liz Evans Scolforo photo)

Krout, who's been a member of the York County Forensic Team since 2006, acknowledged in 2018 that trying to identify John Doe has been frustrating work that has required him to ask families of missing people to dredge up painful memories.

Police said they can't focus on the crime itself until they identify John Doe.

"You're not going to find the (homicide) suspect until you figure out who the victim is," Krout has said.

Anyone with information about the man's identity is asked to call West Manchester Township Police at 717-792-9514 and ask for Sgt. Krout or Detective Sgt. Sean Conway.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.