Missing Michigan man identified after DNA match with John Doe

Charles Cornell was 30-years-old when he was last seen in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1986.  His family never knew what happened to him until they received a DNA match between him and a John Doe in Arkansas that was killed in 1989, just days before Christmas.  After 30 years, the family now knows what happened to Charles.

According to the police reports in Arkansas, the John Doe was hit by a semi truck and killed while he was walking along the freeway.  Because the John Doe had no ID on him, they did not know his identity.  Although there were photos, medical records, dental records and fingerprints put into the database of the John Doe the match did not come until the Cornell family submitted their DNA, reports the Upper Michigan Source.

charlescornell
Charles Cornell.  The black and white drawing was a police sketch of John Doe.

The Cornell family who lives in Cedar Springs stated they last heard from Charles shortly after his 30th birthday. After several months they went to visit him in Battle Creek and found his apartment empty and holes in the wall.  They reported it to the police, and assumed a missing person report was also made.  Hattie, Charles’ mother told WWMT news  that she wrote letters to Social Security, the Salvation Army Missing Persons Program and multiple other agencies over the years.  She didn’t realize the police never filed a report until her daughter called the state police to ask for an update back in May 2016.

While the police were waiting to find out if there was a DNA match they did an investigation into Charles’ disappearance.  They found that he enlisted in the Army in 1975 and was honorably discharged in 1979, and was stationed in Germany most of that time, but the paper trail ended after that.  His driver’s license had not been used in 30 years.

If it wasn’t for the guidance of the police that had the Cornell’s submit their DNA to CODIS they likely would still not know what happened to him.

Combined DNA Index System

NAMUS.gov – A tool everyone should use

About Missing Persons Admin 4369 Articles
Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.