DNA Testing for 1969 Cold Case Possibly Connected to Black Panther Party

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 DNA Testing for 1969 Cold Case Possibly Connected to Black Panther Party

The Porchlight Project, a local nonprofit, will assist the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office by fully funding Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing and family records research by Othram Inc., in an effort to generate leads that could identify the homicide victim whose remains were recovered in a barrel, in 1969. “This is a piece of Cleveland history that remains untold,” says James Renner, founder of The Porchlight Project. “We’re excited to provide the means to finally give a name to this man so that we can learn how he came to be here and who may have wanted him dead.”

Cleveland police and the coroner’s office attempted to identify the man, to no avail. He was found wearing a Waltham wristwatch and a gray metal ring with a blue stone on his 4th finger. He also sported a tattoo – the name, Sally, on the inside of his left forearm. Based on the narrow shape of his skull, it is believed the victim may have had Crouzon Syndrome, which would have made his eyes appear to be bulging. Detectives believed his murder may have been connected to a faction of the Black Panther Party, which was active in Cleveland at the time.

The victim was a young, black man who had been shot nine times. He had also been dismembered before he was placed into the 55-gallon-drum and then covered in some kind of caustic fluid. Cuyahoga County Deputy Coroner Dr. Charles Hirsch also found the victim had suffered significant blunt force trauma to his head.

“At the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office, we never give up hope that we may provide closure to families and bring criminals to justice even years after a death has occurred,” says Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, Dr. Thomas Gilson. “We are very eager to partner with The Porchlight Project on this case and hope that our effort will be successful. It would also be uniquely satisfying to me to see this case through to completion as the late Dr. Hirsch, the original coroner, was my teacher in forensic pathology.”

“We are grateful to the Porchlight Project for the opportunity to help to discover new leads out of the evidence from this terrible crime,” says David Mittelman, Othram CEO. “Othram’s DNA profiles have been used to identify victims from some of the oldest forensic evidence and we look forward to helping advance this case.”

Republished courtesy of the Porchlight Project. Photo credit: Prochlight Project.