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Officials identify body discovered in Giddings field in 1984

The identity was made possible with help of the DNA Doe Project.

GIDDINGS, Texas — Lee County officials have finally identified a body found in a field 36 years ago.

The remains of James L. Hamm were discovered about file miles west of Giddings in November 1984. He was born on April 9, 1949, in Escabana, Michigan.

While officials made multiple attempts to identify him over the years, the sheriff's office consulted with the DNA Doe Project (DDP) in May 2019 regarding investigative genealogy to identify the remains. Then, in August, DNA from the University of North Texas was sent to HudsonAlpha Discovery in Huntsville, Alabama, for whole-genome sequencing. 

That data was uploaded to GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA, and a team of volunteers began investigative genetic genealogy research. By June of the next year, DDP’s volunteer genetic genealogists provided information that led to a potential relative who was willing to provide a DNA sample to confirm Hamm’s identification.

The DDP thanked the following individuals for their help in the case:

  • Lee County Sheriff Rodney Meyer and Texas Ranger Brent Barina 
  • University of North Texas for extraction, testing, and comparison
  • HudsonAlpha for sequencing
  • Dr. Gregory Magoon, contracting through Full Genomes Corporation, for bioinformatics
  • DNA Solutions for developing a reference profile
  • GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA for providing their databases
  • DDP’s dedicated team of volunteer genealogists who provided LCSO with an identification
  • DDP donors
  • Dr. Scott Swanson, Professor of History at Butler University, for his assistance in providing his genealogical research and knowledge of genetic heritage that factored into this case

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