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Todd Mertes: Missing man’s identity found after 25 years

Todd Mertes RIP

Experts estimate about 110,000 people are considered missing in the U.S. The unidentified remains of about 60,000 people are buried in unmarked graves or stored in boxes in medical examiners’ offices across the country. Physical descriptions for only about 15 percent of those remains have been entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.

If you are a family member of a missing loved one who has been missing for several years, you may want to check with your local police department to make sure the case is still active, and is not been forgotten.

The family of Todd Mertes, who has been missing since 1986, thought the police were handling Tod’s missing person case and nothing new had been found, when in reality Todd’s case didn’t even have a missing person’s report in the county’s files any longer.

Todd’s family in Arizona last heard from him in 1986 when he called them from Las Vegas.  That is the last they heard from him.  Todd’s sister knew something was wrong, because he would always call. 

In 1988, a hiker found the remains of a man in Tonopah, Arizona.  The police did not know who the man was.

It wasn’t till 2010, when Jim Scharf, a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Dept. detective who was looking over the Mertes case file discovered that the case had not been developed.  DNA had been taken from the shin bone and been put into the CODIS database, but that was as far as it had gone.  Scharf contacted the Mertes’ family and asked for DNA samples.

It took a while, but the Mertes’ family was told a few weeks ago that it was a match.

“If there is a lesson to be learned from Todd’s story, it’s that family members should check back with agencies who they think have an active missing person report, especially if it’s been more than 10 years,” said Scharf.  “The tools and technology have advanced so much in recent years.  It may be possible to locate or identify someone that we couldn’t’ have 10 to 20 years ago and give peace to the family.”

To learn more about Todd’s incredible story and who they suspect killed him, read here.

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