6/21/07 The Untold Story: Awaiting DNA, Part I
Part I (*Names and places have been changed)
On the afternoon of Friday, June 19th, 2004, I was on location in Columbus, NE for our Project Jason Miles for the Missing tour, when my cell phone rang. On this state tour, we stopped in various cities, met with the public, and gave out free safety brochures and ID kits. I was not busy at the time, and walked away from the table to talk. It was our police detective, *Carl Roberts, and he said he needed to ask me a personal question. I couldn’t imagine what it would be. He seemed hesitant and the reasons for that hesitancy would become clear to me over the next few minutes.
He then asked the very question that all parents of a missing person fear most: “Do you have dental records for Jason?” There is only one reason to ask such a question. A body has been found that they think is his.
Somehow I was able to remain calm and almost business like in my answers to him. Strike the “somehow” as we all know how I was able to get through this call and the next few days.
Unfortunately, we have no dental records for Jason. He has good, strong teeth, and I do not recall him ever having troubles with cavities. I was always bad about going to the dentist myself, and was remiss as a parent in taking him. I explained this to Carl and gave him the name of a dentist in Grand Island (our hometown) who might have seen Jason. We also had no DNA on him because that was something that no one ever explained to us. After so many months, we had thrown away his toothbrush and anything else that might have given a sample. (After all these things transpired, my mother-in-law checked with every dentist in our hometown, and found that either they didn’t keep records going back that far, or that their records had been lost, therefore, we will never have dental records for Jason.)
I asked Carl what was going on that prompted his call. He said that a body was found in California that was a possible match, but he also indicated that it was not certain at all that it might be Jason, as the information he had was not detailed. He tried to make it seem more like a casual inquiry by stating that they are many who would fit that same description. I knew there must be more to it. He said he would research the dental record possibilities and I was to call him when we arrived back home.
I didn’t tell Jim for awhile as our 16 year-old son, Michael, was with us, and I did not feel it appropriate for him to know just yet. Why put others through the anguish? As soon as Michael left to get a drink, I let Jim know. I think we were both numb. We didn’t say much. What was there to say? There was only the waiting, and we had been waiting for three years.
We had to finish out the day. We had an obligation to the public and to Project Jason. I also had live radio interviews to do 4-5 times per hour. That kept me busy for the duration of the two hours we had left at this location. Not only that, but a woman came up to me who has a missing adult son. He has been missing for over two years and it sounded like very little had been done to locate him. This woman needed our help. Had we turned into ourselves with the news of this body, we would have not been present to meet this woman. I’m always so thankful for the strength God provides when we need it.
We had planned to have a nice sit down meal after we were done, but we needed to get home and find out what was going on. We had to tell Michael why we needed to get home quickly. I was definitely not focused as I ran a red light at a high rate of speed, and had Jim not been paying attention, I would have ran into a car turning in front of us. He yelled to stop and I was able to stop in time before I hit the other car. The angels continued to stay with us and we arrived at home.
I called Carl as soon as we arrived at home. He was out, so we had to wait again. When he called back, he told me that he was going to come over to our house. I knew what that meant. They wanted a DNA sample, as the dental records must not have been located. There must be more to it then just an age and height match. I told him that I wanted to know whatever he was able to tell us. He did.
A woman found this John Doe report and artist’s sketch of the face on the Oceanview County website and thought it looked like Jason. She called the Omaha Police. They checked it out and started having conversations with the sheriff in CA. They shared more photographs and information about Jason. The sheriff there thinks it is Jason. Oddly enough, the woman who came across the site and picture is *Pam Moreno. She was doing research for the Doe Network, which is an organization who works on long term missing persons cases. They research John Does all over the country, trying to find matches for cases that are over 9 years old, which is when they consider them long term. Pam knows Jason’s case well because she represented the first organization to help us, and even though they typically only worked with children, they made an exception for us. So, it was strange that out of all the Doe Network volunteers, she would have been the one to check out this site and find this young man’s information. Someone else would not have noticed the resemblance to Jason.
We wanted to know what happened to this person. The body had been found in a ditch or ravine in *Oceanview County near *San Andreas, CA last fall. The coroner did an autopsy and as he was a “John Doe” after a period of time, they buried him. I asked how he died. Carl checked to be sure we really wanted to know. We felt like if it was our son, we should know his fate.
To be continued..............
Go to Part II: