LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: A 15-year-old boy, who died 44 years ago, has finally been identified by the cops. Kenneth Nevada Williams was identified as a runaway teenager, who was never reported missing. His body was discovered on June 3, 1978, along Division Street and Corona Avenue in Long Beach, almost an hour from his home in La Puente.

Williams was only known as ‘John Doe’ despite several generations of homicide detectives trying to identify him. Over the years, due to the lack of fresh leads, the case ran cold. Even though the boy’s fingerprints were taken at that time, there was no success. However, it was only after his skeletal remains were run through a Forensic-Grade Genome test that the police finally started making progress. Authorities tracked down his family and confirmed his identity.

Who was Kenneth Nevada Williams?

Williams’ family assumed the teenager ran away from home and tried to start a new life. They tried to track him down but could not find him, despite hiring a private detective to check. Roxanne Jones, Williams’ sister, reportedly said that he would often run away from home, as per ABC 7. “As soon as they said there was a familial DNA match, I knew who it was who it had to be. He wanted to live in the city and go to clubs and have fun and he just… he wasn’t into drugs or anything like that, but you know, bright lights, big city,” Jones reportedly said. His cause of death has not been reported so far.


As investigative genealogy has made giant leaps terms of technological advancements, detectives were able to develop new leads. As per Daily Mail, the badly damaged skeletal remains were sent to Othram’s lab in The Woodlands, Texas. There, they were able to develop a suitable DNA extract for testing. “We sequenced that DNA and we were able to get a profile that uploaded to the genealogical databases that led to a close family match that led to the identity of Kenneth,” Dr Kristen Mittelman, a chief development officer at Othram, told ABC 7.


Haciendo La Puente Unified School District Police provided school records showing that Williams last attended a Sierra Vista Middle School in 1977, said the police. He had been enrolled in Fairgrove Academy on October 18, 1977, and he last attended school on October 27, 1977. At the time of his death he had the word “paid” stamped on his hand, with some speculating that he had been at a bar or social gathering before his murder. The Doe Network, a center that specializes in providing profiles for unidentified and missing persons, speculated he was strangled to death. It also claimed the body was found within hours of his death and “appeared to have been killed elsewhere and dumped at the location.”


Furthermore, at the time of the investigation, police linked his homicide to convicted serial killer Randy Kraft due to circumstantial evidence. Ultimately, Kraft was ruled out as a suspect. “A teenager who went missing in the 1970s has been known only as ‘John Doe’ for decades until recent technology and dogged investigators led to his true identity,” said Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office Donald Always in a recent statement, adding, “Justice delayed doesn’t have to be justice denied in this case. Kenneth Nevada Williams is now a known victim and identifying his killer is the next step in solving this case.”

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