Kentucky

He was found dead in the Kentucky woods nearly 33 years ago. Now we know his name.

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Authorities have been able to identify a Virginia man whose body was found in McCreary County more than three decades ago, according to Kentucky State Police.

The body was that of Gerald Swindell, 29, of Norfolk, according to a news release.

Detective Billy Correll said Swindell’s body was found in a wooded area in November 1986, several months after a car was found in the same area.

There was some information available at the time to to indicate the man could be Swindell, but police were not able to make a conclusive identification, Correll said.

There was no DNA testing available at the time.

Correll and McCreary County Coroner Tim Corder renewed efforts to identify the body beginning in 2016.

The investigation identified a person missing from Norfolk, Va., as a possible match, and authorities tracked down a relative in California who provided a DNA sample to match against the remains found in Kentucky in 1986, according to the news release.

Police in Arroyo Grande, Cal., and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System helped in getting the DNA sample, state police said.

Corder said the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office had stored the remains for more than three decades, and state police had kept items found with the body.

Technicians at the University of North Texas Health Science Center analyzed the DNA, confirming the body was that of Swindell.

“The technology and resources of today are far better than those of 1986,” Corder said.

It’s not clear how Swindell died. There were only bones found in 1986, Corder said.

It’s also not yet known why Swindell, who had been in the military, was in McCreary County.

Swindell had no family in McCreary County. There was a map in his car; it’s possible he was passing through, Correll said.

Correll continues to investigate.

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