A teenage boy who was killed by a train nearly a century ago might be closer to being identified.
“Some Mother’s Boy” died April 1, 1921, when he was struck in the head by a train in Georgetown. At the time, officials tried and failed to find his family. He was buried in Georgetown Cemetery with the tombstone that simply reads, “Some Mother’s Boy.” He was about 17.
On March 10, nearly 96 years after the boy’s death, his grave was exhumed. Samples of the boy’s bones and teeth were collected that would be used to help identify him.
The FBI is working with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System to find the teenager’s identity. The system, also known as NamUs, is a national centralized repository and resource for missing persons and unidentified decedent records.
Todd Matthews, director of case management and communication for NamUs, said the boy might be Frank Haynes of Bronston, in Pulaski County. That was the boy’s identity according to 1921 news articles from the Richmond Daily Register and the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Frank Haynes’ niece, Margaret Haynes Bell 60, lives in Somerset. Matthews and Scott County Coroner John Goble will meet with her Wednesday to collect a cheek swab. They also will interview her to find out whether there might be other relatives who might be swabbed. Goble said Bell had contacted him.
After a cheek swab is obtained, it will be sent with the boy’s teeth and bones will be sent to the FBI for a DNA test to determine whether there’s a match. Goble said the process would take about 30 days.
If the boy is a blood relative of Bell, he will be buried in Bronston next to his family.
The DNA will be matched through the Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS. It allows federal, state and local forensic laboratories to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically.
Matthews said the Scott County coroner at the time never filed the death certificate, making him wonder whether there was doubt in the boy’s identity. Modern forensic science will confirm the boy’s identity, he said, and Goble will be able to file a death certificate if the boy is positively identified.
Matthews, who said he has known about the case for 30 years, expressed relief that the case might be resolved.
“I didn’t know that I would live long enough to see this day,” he said. “I was 17 years old the first time I sat at the foot of that grave, and this week I’ll be 47.”
If the dead boy isn’t Haynes, Matthews said, it might be a boy from Trimble County.