Remains found in ’86 on riverbank identified

ST. ALBANS, Mo. (AP) — More than a quarter of a century after youngsters found human remains along a riverbank in eastern Missouri, authorities have identified whose they were.

Forensics experts have determined the remains were those of Elbert Embry, the Washington Missourian reported. Embry was 61 in March 1985 when he walked away from the River Heights Care Center in the mid-Missouri town of Boonville.

In April 1986, his remains were found 140 miles away on the banks of the Missouri River in St. Albans.

Maj. Mike Copeland, a Franklin County sheriff’s officer who investigated the remains when they were found, said he was relieved that the 27-year-old mystery had been solved.

“Case closed,” he said.

Copeland said a lower jawbone, a partial pelvic bone and other bone fragments were discovered.

Authorities don’t know how the remains ended up in St. Albans. But Copeland said that in 1985, the Missouri River flooded and covered the area where the remains were found. That means the body could have been in the river and been carried to Franklin County.

Franklin County authorities sent the fragments to the FBI in June 1986. Later, they were examined by anthropologists with the Smithsonian Institution, who determined the bones likely belonged to a white male aged 50 to 65.

That information was placed in a national database of missing persons, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. The database reported a potential match of Embry in 2010.

Authorities in Boonville contacted a brother of Embry and took a swab sample of his cells for comparison with the remains.

Copeland learned Monday from the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office that the sample was a 99 percent match with the missing man’s DNA.

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