AP

Skull found in ’97 in remote Alaska belongs to New York man

Feb 2, 2023, 8:30 PM | Updated: Feb 3, 2023, 5:54 pm

FILE - This Aug. 12, 2009 photo shows snow-covered hills in the Porcupine River Tundra in the Yukon...

FILE - This Aug. 12, 2009 photo shows snow-covered hills in the Porcupine River Tundra in the Yukon Territories, Canada. In July 1997, a hunter contacted troopers in Fairbanks, Alaska, and reported finding a human skull along the Porcupine River, around 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Canadian border. Investigators used genetic genealogy to help identify the remains as those of Gary Frank Sotherden, according to a statement Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, from Alaska state troopers. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A skull found in 1997 in a remote part of Alaska’s Interior belongs to a New York man whose death was likely caused by a bear mauling, according to the Alaska State Troopers.

Investigators used genetic genealogy to help identify the remains as those of Gary Frank Sotherden, according to a statement Thursday from the troopers.

“Based on the shape, size and locations of tooth penetrations to the skull, it appears the person was a victim of bear predation,” Tim DeSpain, an agency spokesperson, said in an email Friday. “It is not known if the bear was the cause of the death.”

Sotherden was reported missing in the late 1970s, DeSpain said. The location in which the skull was found was the general area of Sotherden’s last known whereabouts, he said.

DeSpain did not provide a hometown for Sotherden but said he was from upstate New York.

In July 1997, a hunter contacted troopers in Fairbanks and reported finding a human skull along the Porcupine River, around 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Canadian border. Troopers who went to the area did not find any other remains, the agency said, and the skull was sent to the state medical examiner’s office as unidentified. The suspected cause of death was a bear mauling, according to the troopers’ statement.

DeSpain said “relatively recent successes in the department using genetic genealogy to identify unknown perpetrators and victims” prompted a cold case unit last April to ask the medical examiner’s office to submit bone segments from a number of remains.

“These bone samples then went through various laboratory processes to generate DNA profiles, which were then uploaded into public DNA databases,” he said.

Investigators used genetic genealogy to make a tentative identification, and troopers contacted a relative of Sotherden who provided a DNA sample, the agency said.

That relative told troopers Sotherden had been dropped off in the area where the skull was found “sometime in the early- to mid-1970s to go hunting.”

The relative was notified of the DNA match in late December, troopers said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

moore redmond washington...

Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Redmond couple challenging foreign income tax

The court ruled in the case of Charles and Kathleen Moore, of Redmond, Washington after they previously challenged a $15,000 tax bill.

1 day ago

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

3 days ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

4 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

4 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

5 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

6 days ago

Skull found in ’97 in remote Alaska belongs to New York man