MAYES COUNTY – Through advances in DNA and a family’s determination to find their missing relative, a homicide victim has been identified more than 30 years after remains were found in Mayes County, Okla.
William C. Reed was last seen by friends and family in Bentonville, Ark. in August 1987. Nearly a year later, skeletal remains were found on a private property near Mazie, Okla., and the Mayes County Sheriff’s Office asked the OSBI to investigate. The remains were sent to the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, which determined they were that of a white male who was the victim of a homicide. Over the years, agents worked to develop leads to identify this individual and solve the mystery of his murder, but it was not until last month that Reed was positively identified.
In August 2018, the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, at the request of the OSBI, sent a bone from the unknown male to the University of North Texas (UNT) in hopes their Forensic Services Unit could extract DNA for identification. Because of advances in DNA over the past three decades, UNT was able to develop a profile, which was entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) in March 2019.” Reed’s brother and daughter had submitted their DNA to NamUs in 2010 hoping it could help locate him. It took 30-plus years, but NamUs matched the unknown male’s DNA to Reed’s brother and daughter.
There are thousands of missing persons and unidentified remains throughout the United States. A critical piece to identifying Reed was his family entering their DNA into NamUs. Without them doing that, a match could not have been made. For families who have a missing loved one, it is important to get a DNA sample to law enforcement to be entered into NamUs. Samples from numerous cold cases have been entered into the system but are still unidentified because there is no familial DNA to match it to. Submitting DNA is a simple, yet effective, way for families of missing loved ones to help law enforcement identify them.
We would like to thank the University of North Texas, the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, NamUs and Reed’s family for their combined effort to identify Reed.