MARYVILLE HEIGHTS, Wis. - Nearly 24 years after unidentified human remains were discovered in Grant County, they have been identified.
The body of a man was found in the fall of 1995 in a wooded area off Highway 151 near Maryville Heights.
The body was severely decomposed, and neither the Grant County Sheriff’s Office nor then-Grant County Coroner Ron Strummer were able to identify the man. However, the coroner was able to determine the man died due to a heart condition, according to a release by the Sheriff’s Office.
The FBI was also called in, but unable to get an appropriate fingerprint to check the databases.
Eventually, “John Doe” was buried in a county owned cemetery across from Orchard Manor in the spring of 1996, according to the release.
Earlier this year, Grant County Coroner Phyllis Fuerstenberg reopened the case to see if any new technology could assist in the identification process, according to the release. Due to advancements with fingerprint technology, the FBI was able to obtain fingerprints.
After a search of the fingerprint database, the subject was identified as Gale Joseph Byers originally from the Boscobel-area. Byers was born Nov. 28, 1938. He would have been in his mid-50s when he died.
The Sheriff’s Office has also been able to locate members of his family. They have decided to leave Byers where he is currently buried, according to the release.
Byers had also served in the military, so the Grant County Veterans Service Office is working to see what military benefits may be available to place a headstone on his gravesite.
There will be a graveside service with family in the near future once a headstone is in place, with proper identification, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
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