A man who committed suicide in an Amanda Park motel under a fake name has been identified through a non-profit dna project. The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office said his California family thought that he was still alive, and just avoiding them.
Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate said in a press release that in September of 2001, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office started an investigation into the identity of a man who committed suicide in Amanda Park, Washington. The man had checked into a motel using the fictitious name of Lyle Stevik. Investigators spent countless hours over the years attempting to identify the deceased man.
Earlier this year, the Sheriff’s Office and the Grays Harbor County Coroner’s Office were contacted by Margaret Press and Colleen Fitzpatrick, co-founders of the non-profit DNA Doe Project. This group offered to fund the analysis of “Lyle’s” DNA with the hopes of identifying possible family members. The coroner’s office provide a DNA sample to this group. Through their organization, about 20 volunteers worked hundreds of hours on “Lyle’s” identification since obtaining his DNA results on March 22.
Aside from the hard-working volunteers, the group’s organizers wanted to express their heartfelt appreciation to all the many donors who contributed to the cost of the tests. This was the group’s first Doe Fund Me case and was funded in less than 24 hours with contributions from around the world. The group also wanted to thank all 900,000 plus people who have contributed their DNA results to the GEDmatch database. Without them this identification could never have been made.
In speaking with Margaret Press, she stated that “cases like these are heart-breaking. During those hundreds of hours there wasn’t one where we didn’t all think of the family he left behind. They are what kept us going”.
Through the work of the DNA Doe Project, the group was able to come up with a possible match of a man from California. Associated with this possible match were names of relatives. Investigators with the Sheriff’s Office were able to contact these possible family members and eventually able to positively identify “Lyle” through fingerprints provided by the family. The family believed that “Lyle” was still alive, just did not want to associate with family. Our victim was 25 years of age at the time of his death.
As a matter of practice, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office does not provide the names of individuals who have committed suicide. And the family of “Lyle” has also requested that his name not be released.
The sheriff’s office said in their press release “We are thankful for all involved who helped finally solve this 16 ½ year mystery.”
Below is the link to the unidentified Doe network case. Attached is more information on DNA Doe Project.
The decedent’s body was located in a Quinault area motel. He had checked into the motel using the name “Lyle Stevik” from 1019 S. Progress Avenue, Meridian, Idaho. The address he listed was traced back to a Best Western Rama Inn. Lyle Stevik is a character in the book You Must Remember This by Joyce Carol Oates which was published in November 1998. He indicated that he was going to stay a few more days though he had only paid for one evening. The maid entered the room on September 17, 2001 and found him hanging from the coat rack with his leather belt. He had left money on the nightstand with a note that said “For the Room.” The only personal belongings in his possession was a tooth brush and paste.
DNA Doe Project, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit humanitarian initiative to help identify Jane and John Does and return them to their families. We act as a portal for agencies, donors, and volunteers to work together to bring closure to the unnamed dead. Does can’t speak for themselves; we must speak for them.
According to Bureau of Justice Statistics survey, in 2007 there were 40,000 sets of unidentified remains held by medical examiners across the country. This is regarded as a vast underestimate. Today, the numbers would be even higher, and increasing every year.
Our approach to identifying John and Jane Does is similar to that used by adoptees searching for their birth families. Typically, by testing with a Direct-to-Consumer DNA testing company such as Ancestry.com, an adoptee will arrive at a list of potential relatives that could lead him to the identity of his birth parents. However, unlike adoptees, we do not go through DTC companies for testing and analysis. Instead we collaborate with independent laboratories and bioinformatics experts to generate data similar to DTC data. We also make use of third-party DNA databases. We have developed expertise in applying genetic genealogy tools to the degraded DNA typical of John and Jane Doe cases. Even if we are not able to make an identification, we can usually generate clues to the geographic origins and ethnicity of a Doe. This can be helpful to agencies in narrowing the focus of their investigations.
The effectiveness of our approach is illustrated by our recent identification of Buckskin Girl, a young woman whose remains were found in Miami County, OH in April 1981. No hits were found for her in the CODIS database; fingerprint identification, isotope analysis, and pollen studies failed to solve the case. After 37 years without a name, Buckskin Girl was finally identified through the efforts of the DNA Doe Project and returned to her family.
To keep costs down, we draw on volunteers from the genetic genealogy community who have the requisite skills and experience. The analysis may take months, depending on case-specific issues. We work on a best-effort basis. Upon request, the submitting agency will receive a digital version of the Doe’s full genome, alleviating concerns about further sample degradation or exhaustion.
If you wish to submit a case or you wish to join us as a volunteer, please contact us at the emails below. If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation either to the Doe Fund Me general fund, or to a specific case featured in our gallery, please visit our website www.dnadoeproject.org.