Marine’s Jawbone Found in Arizona Rock Collection Solves Mystery of 70-Year-Old Training Accident

A jawbone found in Arizona has been identified as belonging to a U.S. Marine who died in a training accident in 1951, shedding light on a decades-old mystery. The discovery was made by a boy with a rock collection two decades ago, and last year, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office passed the bone to the Ramapo College Investigative Genetic Genealogy Center in New Jersey after traditional DNA testing failed to yield results.

According to a recent press release from Ramapo College, the jawbone belongs to Capt. Everett Leland Yager, who tragically lost his life in a training accident in California over 70 years ago. Yager’s remains were previously collected from the accident site and buried in his hometown in Missouri. The origin of how the jawbone ended up in Arizona remains unclear, though experts speculate that a bird may have been involved in its transportation.

Cairenn Binder, assistant director of the Ramapo College IGG Center, highlighted the unexpected turns in the case and praised the power of education at the institution. Through genome sequencing and bioinformatics, a genetic profile was developed in May, leading to a breakthrough when Yager’s daughter provided a DNA sample that matched the genetic profile.

The summer bootcamp students at Ramapo College played a crucial role in identifying a potential candidate within just two days before handing the case back to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation and confirmation. The remains will now be returned to Yager’s family, providing closure after decades of uncertainty surrounding the Marine’s fate in the training accident.

The case serves as a reminder of the importance of advancements in genetic genealogy and forensic technology in solving long-standing mysteries and bringing closure to families of missing individuals. The collaborative effort between multiple institutions and experts demonstrates the significance of utilizing cutting-edge methods to unravel decades-old puzzles and provide answers to lingering questions.