Jasper County John Doe

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Redgrave Research Forensic Services has taken on the case of Jasper County John Doe (NamUs #UP11379), an unidentified victim of serial killer Larry Eyler. Working with Andy and Diana Boersma of the Jasper County Coroner’s Office, we are preparing to perform forensic genetic genealogy in an attempt to discover his identity. Forensic genetic genealogy intern Bryan Worters will be co-leading the case alongside Anthony Redgrave. Because of the possibility that the victim was LGBTQ+, the case is being considered within the scope of the Trans Doe Task Force/LAMMP (LGBTQ+ Accountability for Missing and Murdered Persons), and an all LGBTQ+ and informed ally genealogy team is being assigned to the case.

Case Synopsis: 

On the morning of October 15th, 1983, an individual who was setting and checking fox traps on private property near the town of Rensselaer in Jasper County, Indiana came across what he believed to be human remains. He immediately contacted the Jasper County Sheriff’s police, with responding officer Paul Ricker being the first on the scene. 

Ricker and his colleagues observed partial skeletal remains strewn about the property, with many of the pieces fragmented. After the bone fragments were gathered, they were sent to Jasper County’s (then) coroner, Dr. Stephen Spicer. In collaboration with Dr. John Pless of the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, the two would deduce much from the sum of thirty bone fragments recovered.  

The victim was estimated to be a white male, approximately 18 to 26 years of age, had shoulder-length reddish-brown hair, stood at an estimated 5’6” (168 cm) to 5’8” (172 cm), and was believed to have previously fractured his left femur. Stainless steel tooth caps were noted at teeth #19 and #30, along with amalgam restorations at #2, #3, and #12. Anthropologist consultation suggests that one of the restored teeth was applied backward. Several articles of clothing were also discovered at the scene, including a gray hooded sweatshirt, a pair of Levi brand jeans and a brown belt in a size 28”, gray/burgundy socks, and suede athletic shoes in a size 11 ½. Additionally, a zippo lighter with the name ‘ARLENE’ engraved onto it was found near the remains. Officials determined that the young man was the victim of a homicide and was deceased for approximately one to two years. Despite the numerous identifying characteristics, no missing person reports in the area fit the man’s description, nor did anyone claim to know the identity of John Doe.

Not long after this discovery, authorities linked the remains to a rash of murders in Indiana and Illinois, with many of the victims speculated to be hitchhikers, sex workers, and/or were members of the LGBTQ+ community. The murder series ended with the arrest of Larry Eyler, who was convicted for two counts of homicide and given a death sentence. But before Eyler’s execution date was slated to happen, he died from AIDS-related complications on March 6th, 1994. Two days after his death, his attorney, Kathleen Zellner, held a press conference which disclosed that Eyler had confessed to a further 19 murder victims, including the unidentified young man found in Jasper County over a decade earlier. Eyler described the man to an FBI sketch artist, who rendered a forensic image of how he may have appeared in life. 

Eyler recalled that on or around the weekend of November 20th, 1982; he met a hitchhiker, possibly a college student from a nearby university, of about 20 to 22 years old along Highway 41 close to what was believed to be Vincennes, Indiana. The two went through a fast-food establishment’s drive-thru, where Eyler ordered a coke that he mixed rum into. Once they left the drive-thru, Eyler began to drive north on the interstate with the hitchhiker, whom he offered beer and Placidyl. The young man accepted the offer, drinking several beers and taking two pills. By the time the pair had reached Jasper County, the hitchhiker was semiconscious, which Eyler used to his advantage. He propositioned the man to perform oral sex on him, which the hitchhiker blearily agreed to. The two parked the vehicle in an empty field and walked into a weeded area, where Eyler blindfolded, handcuffed, and bound the man’s feet. Once the young man was immobilized, Eyler pulled the hitchhiker’s pants below his hips, and repeatedly stabbed the man “in the front” with an eight-inch hunting knife. Once the person succumbed to his injuries, Eyler removed his binding tools and left the scene. 

Even after the unknown man’s discovery, the people of Jasper County honored the individual whom they never knew in life. Several years after John Doe’s initial discovery, Paul Ricker and his fellow first responders raised money to afford a gravestone for a plot of land in Sayler Makeever Cemetery in Rensselaer, Indiana.

From Bryan Worters: 

Though there has been a sizable amount of coverage on Eyler’s cases, most notably Gera-Lind Kolarik and Wayne Klatt’s book Freed to Kill, the case never quite reached the same levels of attention as the likes of other serial murderers, such as Ted Bundy or Richard Ramirez. It seemed as if Larry Eyler’s name had faded from the public consciousness of the Midwest, the victims pushed further towards the periphery. That same lack of public intrigue sparked my interest in the case, knowing that there were several men who had met such an excruciatingly brutal fate and remained unidentified left me verklempt, including the young man found in Jasper County, whom I call “Ellis”. 

Ellis’ case has changed hands over the years, but now resides in the company of the current coroners of Jasper County, Andy and Diana Boersma. The Boersmas have been looking to uncover the identity of the young man since they inherited the case over a decade ago. The husband-wife duo has gone to great lengths in order to identify the young man, from pushing for DNA extraction to be entered into the CODIS system, to maintaining contact with Kathleen Zellner for additional information. The utmost priority for the Boersmas is to have the man be returned to his family. The Redgrave Research team and I intend to aid them in bringing Ellis home to his loved ones.

To assist in the search for Ellis’ identity, Anthony Redgrave has rendered a new forensic image of Ellis based on photos of the skull, the description that Eyler had provided, and in consultation with anthropologist Dr. Samantha Blatt of Idaho State University.

Redgrave Research would like to thank DNA Solutions for the DNA extraction, HudsonAlpha Discovery for the whole-genome sequencing, and Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for bioinformatics. We would also like to thank those who have been involved with Ellis’ case since his discovery, the Boersmas, Kathleen Zellner, and those who have continued to spend their time, effort, and dedication to honoring a young man who they never personally knew.

If you have any information relating to the identity of Ellis/Jasper County John Doe (1983), please contact Andy Boersma at 219-956-2220 or 219-863-3560. 

Immigration Update

Monday, December 14, 2020

As the risk of COVID-19 exposure increased, many US Embassy offices closed earlier this year. In response, DNA collections for beneficiaries were placed on hold. As we near the end of 2020, COVID-19 continues to negatively affect the immigration process. In addition to US Embassy locations remaining closed, storage shortages now appear to rapidly emerge in various countries. Back-logs of collection kits dating to February remain untouched in storage. Embassy locations report upwards of two thousand cases sitting in storage waiting for their office to reopen and/or DNA collection suspensions to end. At this time DNA Solutions is restricted from shipping DNA Collection kits to the countries listed below until further notice.

  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Ecuador
  • Afghanistan
  • Nigeria
  • Bangladesh
  • Dominican Republic
  • Italy
  • Uganda
  • London
  • Jamaica
  • Ethiopia

To best serve our immigration clients, we have revamped our immigration process to accommodate for these changes. DNA Solutions can set up a collection for the petitioner in the US, but we must wait until the US Embassy re-opens before we can ship a collection kit for the beneficiary(s). During this waiting period, we provide the petitioner with a status letter and a copy of their payment receipt. They are encouraged to provide the USCIS Office handling their case a copy of this letter and receipt to confirm they have selected DNA testing as proof of relationship. The status letter will request that the deadline for DNA submission be extended, due to the suspension of DNA collection services at the US Embassy. Although we advise this letter does not guarantee an extension will be granted, we continue to have great success with this method.

Status letters are automatically provided for new cases where an embassy is closed with no storage capabilities and are available upon request for pending cases. 

For more information on immigration testing, contact DNA Solutions at (866) 362-9778 or

Secondary Testing and Family Reconstruction

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Family Reconstruction DNA testing confirms relatedness through secondary relationships and is often used when an alleged father is not available. DNA Solutions offers secondary relationship testing through grandparentage, siblingship, and avuncular analysis. Obtaining conclusive DNA results can sometimes be difficult and results can fall anywhere between 0-100%. If your report shows a result between 0%-9.09% the relationship tested is not supported; however, a result of 90.9%-100% shows the relationship is supported.

If an inconclusive result is obtained between 9.09%-90.9%, additional relatives may be added to the original analysis to obtain conclusive results. DNA Solutions family reconstruction testing has evolved over the last 20 years and our laboratory is available to discuss the best option and which relatives to add to your case.

Family reconstruction tests are also helpful when determining a relationship degree greater than two generations, such as cousins or great grandparents. When faced with a case that seems too complicated, always call DNA Solutions first to see how our laboratory's Family Reconstruction software can assist you and your client.

DNA results for family reconstruction cases and large secondary relationship cases, will include a family pedigree on the report, indicating the exact relationship tested. Below are examples of such pedigrees. 

For more information on family reconstruction, contact DNA Solutions at (866) 362-9778 or

Using Grandparents to Establish Paternity

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Grandparentage testing is a secondary-relationship test performed to determine:

  • biological relationships with a grandchild
  • parentage if an alleged father is unavailable for testing

To establish paternity, the child’s DNA is compared to the alleged father’s parents (paternal grandmother and/or grandfather). Our laboratory will use the paternal grandparents’ DNA to reconstruct the alleged father’s genetic profile and compare to the child’s DNA profile. Additional samples may be required to obtain a conclusive result for secondary-relationship tests. A sample from the mother of the child is strongly recommended for all relationship tests to improve the statistics and limit the possibility of additional testing.

Informational tests are for peace of mind and not court admissible. If a client needs a legal test for court admissibility, a legal guardian must be present to sign consent for any child under 18.

Results will be reported as supported, inconclusive, and not supported:

Supported - Results that fall in the range of 90-99.99% and provide enough statistical evidence to indicate that the missing alleged father cannot be excluded.

Inconclusive - Results that fall in the range of 10-89.99% and do not provide enough statistical evidence to confidently report that the missing alleged father is either excluded or cannot be excluded. At this time, we will recommend providing additional participants. Additional people that could be tested include known full siblings or paternal siblings such as aunts or uncles. This will help drive the statistical analysis towards conclusive results.

Not Supported - Results that fall in the range of 0.00-9.99% and provide enough statistical evidence to indicate that the missing alleged father is excluded.

For more information on grandparentage testing, contact DNA Solutions at 866-362-9778 or