Who is Will County John Doe (2008)?
In October 2008, a man was found hanging from a tree at the Thorn Creek Nature Preserve in Park Forest, Illinois. The stranger was found in a wooded area several hundred yards from the roadway at 23450 Western Avenue.
Clothing and personal effects were found with the man, but there was no identifying information. Without an immediate identity, the stranger became known as “The Hanged Man”. The man was wearing khaki pants, a striped, button-down, short-sleeved shirt, and a pair of brown, size 13, State Street-branded loafers, which showed significant tread wear. Near the body of the stranger were a green backpack, a plastic bag marked “Joe and Frank’s Famous Homemade Sausage”, a Zippo lighter marked with the word “Poland” and a Polish flag. Investigators believe the man had died about three months before his body was found.
Investigators estimated the man to be between 50 and 60 years old and very tall, measuring between approximately 6’3″ and 6’5″ in height. His hair was a mix of Sandy Brown and gray, and between one and two inches from The Man also appeared to have frontal and upper baldness on his scalp. There was evidence of extensive dental work and multiple healed fractures to bones throughout his body. Additionally, investigators noted that nicotine was found in his system.
For more than a decade, investigators diligently pursued various leads into the case. Local law enforcement found no missing person records matching the details of this case and a fingerprint search also returned no matches. Some of the remains were sent to the University of North Texas Human Identification Center for possible DNA testing work. In May 2009, the case was entered into NamUs as UP5263. Despite considerable effort, investigators were unable to develop any new leads and the case eventually went cold.
In 2021, the Will County Coroner’s Office partnered with Othram to determine if advanced forensic DNA testing could help establish an identity for the man or a close relative. If anyone has any information that would assist in this investigation, they are encouraged to contact the Will County Coroner’s Office at 815-727-8455 and reference case number 08-0354 or NamUs ID #UP5263. The Will County Coroner’s Office contributed a portion of the funding to support this case, and a DNASolves crowdfunding fund was created to raise money for the remaining case processing costs. Anyone can contribute here.
About Othram Inc.
Othram is the world’s first private DNA lab built specifically to apply the power of modern parallel sequencing to forensic evidence. Othram scientists are experts in the recovery, enrichment and analysis of human DNA from traces of degraded or contaminated materials. Founded in 2018 and located in The Woodlands, Texas, our team works with academic researchers, medical examiners, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to deliver results when other approaches have failed. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit Othram.com to find out how we can help you with your case. With dnasolves.com, everyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.