TYLER, Texas (KETK) – After nearly two decades of searching for answers, the Tyler Police Department will finally be able to close a cold case.

After enlisting help from the DNA Doe Project, the department was able to identify a body that was found on December 23, 2004.

The body was found near the intersection of HWY 69 South and FM 2813 just south of the Tyler city limits. A forensic medical examiner was only able to determine that it was a white male between 27-42 years old.

Original KETK footage from when the body was found

It was estimated the man had died months before being found.

After exhausting all possible leads by 2019, the department turned to volunteer investigative genetic genealogists to help give the body an identity. After months of searching and testing, the man has finally been identified as Kim Ryan Casey.

Detective James Holt with the Tyler Police Department said that there was no indication of criminal activity in this case.

“It appears to be natural causes- there were some cold snaps about that time. Being homeless, there’s always concern about health risks and nutrition,” said Holt.

Holt said that Casey was believed to be homeless and traveling at the time. They are not sure what his connections to Tyler were.

The DNA Doe Project had leads that sent them to Kentucky, Missouri and even Scotland.

“This case had some interesting challenges, including a DNA sample that was very small in quantity and heavily contaminated with bacteria. I’m glad that despite these hurdles, we were able to identify Kim and bring some answers to his family.”

Kevin Lord, Lab Liaison for the DNA Doe Project

“So, this case got brought to us and we had a successful DNA extraction and we put it through and uploaded it to dead match. I don’t believe we used family tree DNA on this case, we only used dead match,” said Megan Pasiaka, Team Lead with DNA Doe Project.

DDP wishes to acknowledge the contributions of those groups and individuals who helped solve this case: Detective James Holt of the Tyler Police Department; HudsonAlpha Discovery Labs for whole genome sequencing; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for bioinformatics; GEDmatch for providing their database; our generous donors; and our extraordinary team of DDP investigative genetic genealogists.

To date, the DDP has helped identify more than 70 bodies.

“I really hope that we can continue to solve cases like this to bring closure to these families and to give them closure in terms of when we have a homicide- possibly identifying who a Doe was can possibly lead to a suspect,” said Pasiaka.

These cold cases take a lot of funding to process, if you would like to help DNA Doe Project, click here.