29 years later missing Ontario man found in a New York State cemetery


Published January 4, 2024 at 1:13 pm

lake ontario

The case of a missing 33-year-old Ontario man has finally been resolved after 29 years.

The 33-year-old man, whose family has asked police not to name, was reported missing from the Niagara Region in 1994, according to a press release from Niagara Regional Police.

Reportedly, the man was last seen alive on May 21, 1994.

Police investigated but did not locate the man. The investigation remained open pending any new information.

Then, in July 2018, an OPP Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Unit linked a case of an unidentified man found dead in Lake Ontario near Olcott Harbour, in New York State to the missing Ontario man, police said.

Olcott Harbour is about 30 kilometres from the Niagara U.S.-Canada border.

The OPP made the connection through the National Missing Children/Persons and Unidentified Remains database.

On June 17, 1994, the body of a six-foot-two-inch tall, white man weighing about 190 pounds was found in Lake Ontario, according to a Buffalo media report.

The man was wearing Levi Strauss blue jeans made in Canada, and a black zipper sweatshirt, light blue T-shirt with “Rush Programs” printed on it, the report continued.

The U.S. unidentified person report also said the missing man had Canadian coins – three nickels and one penny — in his pocket.

missing ontario man new york state

The man was not positively identified and was buried as a “John Doe” in a nearby U.S. cemetery, Niagara police said.

In February 2019, Ontario police received dental records from U.S. investigators. A Canadian dentist reviewed the case but could not reach a positive conclusion.

In late 2020, a forensic dentist, using a computerized dental comparison program, noted an excellent correlation between the missing man and John Doe.

The only next viable investigative step was to exhume the remains, obtain DNA and complete a comparison, police said.

The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office in New York submitted an affidavit requesting the exhumation.

In September 2023, judicial authorization was granted in the U.S. and the exhumation took place in October 2023.

John Doe was brought to Canada for the examination.

On Oct. 25, 2023, through the work of the OFPS Forensic Anthropology Unit, John Doe was positively identified as being a match to the missing man from Niagara in 1994.

The man has since been laid to rest in Niagara Region.

“Although this young male had been missing for 29 years, the recent investigation sheds light on the importance and needed collaboration between both Canada and US law enforcement agencies to bring much needed closure to families who after all these years still seek answers,” Niagara Regional Police Missing Person and Unidentified Remains Coordinator, Detective Constable Sara Mummery said in the press release.

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