Remains found in 1996 identified after New Hampshire officials use modern DNA testing tech

  • An undated photograph of Benjamin Adams, of Canaan, N.H. (Courtesy New Hampshire Attorney General) Courtesy New Hampshire Attorney General

Published: 9/29/2023 8:56:32 AM
Modified: 9/29/2023 8:55:44 AM

CONCORD — The remains of a 78-year-old man with dementia who left his home to go for a walk in 1991 and never returned have been identified after New Hampshire authorities used modern DNA testing technology, the state attorney general’s office said Thursday.

Benjamin Adams left his home in Canaan that June. After search efforts were unsuccessful, he was listed as a missing person.

In November 1996, a hunter discovered some skeletal remains in the woods in Hanover, nearly 20 miles away. Additional bones were discovered after the area was searched. Due to the vicinity of Adams’ last known location, investigators suspected the remains might be his, the attorney general’s office said in a news release.

An out-of-state forensic anthropologist examined the remains in 1997. The examination indicated that the biological characteristics were not inconsistent with those of Adams, but a positive identification could not be made, the news release said.

The New Hampshire State Police Major Crime and Cold Case units, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the University of New Hampshire Forensic Anthropology Identification and Recovery Lab recently examined the case and reached out to Adams’ son to obtain a sample of his DNA.

The sample and some skeletal remains were sent to a provide contract lab for DNA comparison testing, which confirmed the “probability of relatedness” was extremely high, officials said.

The medical examiner’s office is “in the process of coordinating the reunification of Mr. Adams’ remains with his family,” the news release said.

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