New DNA testing could reveal true identity of Rock County remains found in 1995
Gary Gilbank still remembers finding the body.
“I can replay that minute or two of my life pretty vividly,” he says.
Gilbank was hunting with family members on their property in November 1995 when he first saw it.
“I was deer hunting and sitting in a tree stand that was 75 or 100 yards away when I noticed something, a bag or something to my left,” he said. “I got off of my stand and walked over to see what was there.”
As Gilbank got closer to the bag, he knew something was wrong.
“I saw pants laid out and a shirt with the shirt pulled up over a head,” he said. “I took the muzzle of my shotgun and picked up the T-shirt and it was basically a skull. Everything was gone. It was just a skull.”
He quickly called two other family members over.
“I was trying to convince myself that it was actually a body,” he said.
Authorities came and removed the body. That was the last time Gilbank would see the man who many would come to know as John “Clinton” Doe.
News quickly spread across the township.
“I had a hard time going many places around town without being recognized as the guy that found John
Doe,” Gilbank said.
He was left with questions that would continue to go unanswered as law enforcement struggled to identify the remains. Days turned into weeks, then into months and years.
Doe never escaped Gilbank’s mind, at least not permanently.
“When I would go hunting, of course, during deer hunting, I would think about it every year,” he said.
“Whenever I was back in that location, it would always pop in my head that back in there was where I found that dead guy.”
Recently, a private group called the DNA Doe Project say they’ve been able to use updates in national DNA databases to confirm Doe’s identity. The Rock County Sheriff’s Office is now using these findings to confirm the information for themselves.
Nearly a quarter century later, answers. Although for Gilbank, questions will always remain.
“All those questions will still be out there, but at least we’ll have some closure for the family.”
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