1978 Cold Case Victim Identified after 43 years

Third Wisconsin Case Solve for the DNA Doe Project

Dennis R. McConn

Sebastopol, CA – March 31, 2021 – The Wisconsin Department of Justice, DCI, (WDJ), the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) and the DNA Doe Project (DDP) announce the identity of a man whose partial remains were discovered in a remote wooded area by loggers in 1978 as Dennis Regan McConn.

Born in 1947, Mr. McConn was last seen by his family leaving his home in Kenosha, Wisconsin in January 1977.  His death is regarded as “presumed homicide”.

The DNA Doe Project was first contacted for assistance with this case in early 2019. After DNA extraction, sequencing, and bioinformatics were complete, files were uploaded to GEDmatch in September of 2020; the team began their research efforts on September 12.  Extraction was difficult, however, and took several attempts by different laboratories. According to Team Leader Jenny Lecus, after data was finally uploaded to Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) in late November, within three days they were able to identify Dennis Regan McConn as Jackson County John Doe 1978. In total the team spent over 270 hours in their research.

The DNA Doe Project wishes to acknowledge the contributions of those groups and individuals who helped solve this case: the WDJ-DCI and Special Agent Joseph Welsch who brought us the case; DNA Solutions and the International Commission on Missing Persons in The Hague for DNA extraction; HudsonAlpha Discovery for sequencing; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for bioinformatics; GEDmatch and FTDNA for providing their databases; our generous donors and DDP’s dedicated teams of volunteer genealogists who researched and provided WDJ with the identity of the victim.

This is the third Wisconsin case in which DDP has been involved. Genealogical research for this case was provided pro bono by DDP volunteers. Their reward, Team Leaders say, is the thrill of helping provide a name once again to someone who has been known only as “John Doe” for so many years.

About the DNA Doe Project

The DNA Doe Project, Inc. is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to identify John and Jane Does and return them to their families. The genealogy research is pro bono, but relies on donations to fund lab costs when agencies cannot afford them.  To date DDP has made over forty-five confirmed identifications. Discover more at https://dnadoeproject.org/ .

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