Hunters discovered skeletal remains in an Idaho forest in 1984 that went unidentified for 37 years.
With the help of DNA testing, they were identified on April 8 as Roger Brian Bennett of Oklahoma, the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office said in an April 11 Facebook post.
In 1983, deputies found an abandoned camp near Powell Junction, about 400 yards from White Sands Road. Belongings were found at the camp, including a tent, sleeping bag, towels, cooking items and a prescription eye lens.
It appeared the campsite had been abandoned for a year, deputies said.
Hunters then found skeletal remains in 1984 near Colt Killed Creek, also near the Powell Ranger Station. Deputies said the remains were found with a pair of glasses that were missing a lens as well as clothing items.
But no identification was found with the man’s remains. Authorities concluded the man had died in 1982.
Bennett’s remains were sent to a forensic anthropologist and then a crime lab for identification.
His remains were entered into the NaMus database in 2010 — a website created to track missing and unidentified people in the United States.
A DNA profile of the man’s remains was also logged into CODIS, the FBI’s national DNA profile database.
In 2022, his samples were sent to a private lab funded by NaMus for genetic genealogy testing, followed by a DNA sample being requested from a possible sibling in Oklahoma City, and from their mother.
The April 8 results concluded the man’s DNA was a 99.9803% match to his mother, leading the Idaho County Coroner to confirm the remains as Bennett’s.
Born in 1955 in Oklahoma City, Bennett went into the Air Force until he was discharged in 1982 from Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.
His last letter to his family informed them about his discharge and his plans of finding an offshore oil rig job in Houma, Louisiana.
He was interested in journalism and had been a National Merit semifinalist.
He was around 26 or 27 years old when he disappeared in the heavily wooded Powell area, which is about 60 miles southwest of Missoula, Montana.