Andrew Jackson Greer
National Missing and Unidentified Persons System/NOT BLADE Enlarge
CLAYTON, Mich. — A DNA test has solved two cold cases from almost 40 years ago involving a Michigan teen who went missing from school.
On Feb. 14, 1979, a teen was hitchhiking on Interstate 75 in Macon, Ga., when he was struck and killed by a truck. The youth carried no identification and Georgia law enforcement had no idea who he was, where he was from, or how to find his family. For months after the accident, his body lay in the morgue as authorities hoped someone would come forward to claim him.
No one did, and he was eventually buried.
At the same time, Michigan State Police was investigating a case involving a missing teenager from Lenawee County. Andrew Jackson Greer, 15, had walked out of Addison High School on Feb. 12, 1979, and hadn’t been seen by his friends or family since. Investigations conducted by MSP in 1979 and by the Lenawee County Sheriff’s Office in 2000 both went cold.
But both cases were solved this week when a forensic analyst from the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas confirmed that DNA from the “John Doe” buried in 1979 in Macon, Ga., matched the Greer youth’s DNA, according to the MSP.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” MSP Detective. Sgt. Larry Rothman said. “I’m glad we were able to get closure for the family.”
The Greer youth was attempting to hitchhike to the Florida Keys where he had family, Sergeant Rothman said. In 2014, the case was revived when the boy’s half-brother contacted a reporter in Adrian, Mich. and asked for a story about the case in order to generate publicity about the still-missing youth.
A retired Bibb County sheriff’s deputy in Georgia read the story, Sergeant Rothman said, and remembered the funeral he attended in 1979 for “John Doe,” who had been killed on I-75. He realized many of the details shared about the Greer youth were similar to the youth killed in Macon.
Officials exhumed the body and submitted the DNA for analysis, Sergeant Rothman said. Before they died, the Greer youth’s parents had submitted their own DNA to help police find their son.
“We were pretty sure it was Drew prior to the DNA,” he said.
The DNA results confirmed their suspicions. The boy’s remaining family is planning to move his body from Georgia to Michigan, Sergeant Rothman said.
“Very few of these cases get solved, so for this case to get solved is, professionally, very, very satisfying,” he said. “But there are thousands of cases like Drew’s out there that never get solved.”
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