Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Investigators identified the skeletal remains found in a shallow grave in Ohio in 1991 as missing person Robert A. Mullins.
Mullins went missing in late 1988 or early 1989 according to his family. He would have been 21 years old at that time. The Pickaway County Sheriff's Office announced the results of the "multistep verification process" that confirmed the identity of the remains.
The remains were first discovered on Nov. 1, 1991, near a private farm along state Route 59 southeast of Circleville, Ohio. Anthropologists estimated the remains had been there for about three years.
"Thirty-one Christmases have gone by while this family waited for answers," said Ohio attorney general Dave Yost.
"When the results weren't immediate and the case grew cool, Pickaway County law enforcement dug in their heels and kept trying until the evolution of DNA technology finally yielded an identity for John Doe."
The investigation was shared across several agencies beyond Ohio's borders. The Ohio State Department of Anthropology became involved shortly after Mullin's body was discovered. In 2012 the remains were brought to North Texas University for a DNA extraction. The DNA results confirmed the remains belonged to a male.
When Mullin's remains were found, investigators believed they belonged to a female because their height estimate was about 5-foot-1.
In 2021, researchers began investigating the genetic genealogy of the remains to identify possible relatives. The DNA was put into a database which revealed more information about Mullin's parents and other genetic matches.
Nine people found to be genetic matches cooperated with the investigation to solidify a lead on Mullin's identity. His family was found and submitted DNA samples for comparison.
Mullin's cause of death has not been revealed and a suspect is yet to be identified.
"In the original press release Sheriff Dwight E. Radcliff talked about us all being duty bound, police officers and he talked about determining this person's identity and their demise," the Pickaway County Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook. "With that being said, this is still an active case -- we ask anyone who has any information on what could have happened to Robert Mullins."
Anyone with more information is asked to contact Lt. Johnathan Strawser with the Pickaway County Sheriff's Office at (740) 474-2176.