Skeletal remains found in Avondale basement identified

Updated: Feb. 3, 2021 at 4:52 PM EST
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AVONDALE, Ohio (FOX19) - The skeletal remains found five months ago in an Avondale basement have been identified.

The remains were identified as 69-year-old Neva Johnson, according to the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office.

Her remains would have been much more difficult to identify if not for one clue found next to her bones, the office says.

That clue, an old cellphone.

“When there’s skeletal remains, there’s only a few ways we can identify that person,” says Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Kode Sammarco. “So, we have dental records that we can use, we have skeletal records if they’ve ever been in the hospital, some x-rays very similar to using dental records, DNA.”

But Johnson’s remains were unrecognizable, and no ID was found with the remains, Sammarco says.

The cell phone turned out to be the missing piece to the puzzle.

The phone didn’t have a SIM card, so the coroner’s office turned to the serial number on it.

“They managed to find the person who had given this person the cell phone and got some information from them about who she might have been, and then our investigators tracked down family members,” Sammarco says.

The coroner says Johnson has a son and daughter, who says she was a bit of a nomad who would disappear from time to time.

The coroner’s office originally thought the bones were a few decades old but found out Johnson last posted on Facebook in 2015. So, they believe she’s been dead for five years.

Through a DNA test with the son, the coroner’s office was able to verify the remains as Johnson’s.

There are still some unanswered questions, but the coroner’s office was able to get in contact with Johnson’s son so he can lay her to rest.

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