BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Butler County investigators have worked with a non-profit to confirm the identity of a John Doe from 1997.
On Sunday, May 18, 1997, the then coroner responded to a call from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office regarding a human body found in the Great Miami River floating south of the Horseshoe Dam in the canal.
The body was that of a white male, approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall, around 130 to 150 pounds and in a state of severe decomposition.
The identity of the person remained unknown for over 23 years.
In late 2018, Butler County Coroner’s Investigator William E. Havens took over the cold case.
Havens reached out to the DNA Doe Project, a national non-profit, for help identifying the man.
Using DNA and forensic genealogy technology, the organization was able to help the coroner’s office identify the individual as Larry Joe Porter. He was 44 years old at the time of his death, according to officials, and was a resident of Dayton.
“The technology continues to get better and better, and so cases that five years ago, or three years ago, there might not have been enough DNA to work with, we’re finding that today, there is," Franchesca Werden, Media Director with the DNA Doe Project, said.
According to the coroner, Dr. Lisa Mannix, injuries noted at autopsy are consistent with a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle. However, the cause and manner of death remain undetermined.
Porter’s family has requested their privacy be respected at this time.
“I am proud of the work done by the Coroner’s Office and the continued commitment, which led to resolution of this long-standing case. We are grateful to have finally identified Mr. Porter and reunited him with his family," Mannix said in a news release.
This is not the first time the DNA Doe Project has helped close a local case. They aided in identifying a Jane Doe from Butler County in 2019.
In total, Werden said the non-profit has had a hand in solving more than 40 cases. There are 70 cases currently in the pipeline.
“Everybody has a name, and everyone deserves to be remembered with their name, and that’s really what drives us," Werden said. “It’s very sad and tragic and at the same time, it’s gratifying in knowing that we may have helped the family achieve closure.”
The DNA Doe Project is now working another case with local ties as they try to help identify an unknown male from Grant County, Kentucky.
Anyone with information regarding Porter’s death is asked to contact Detective Joe Ventre at the Butler County Sheriff’s Office at 513-785-1239.