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Investigators announce big break in case of man who vanished 15 years ago

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Posted at 12:02 PM, Oct 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-20 14:02:08-04

DRIGGS, Idaho — This article was written by Nate Eaton of East Idaho News.

The remains of a man who vanished 15 years ago have been found and positively identified thanks to new DNA technology, according to the Teton County Sheriff’s Office.

John Michael Carroll was reported missing Nov. 14, 2005 by his roommate after Carroll did not return home for several days. His clothing, wallet, vehicle, identification and money were left at the house.

At the time, investigators conducted searches for the 58-year-old man around his residence and in Rexburg, where he would frequently ride his ATV. Then, in 2010 and 2011, deputies enlisted the help of K9 cadaver teams to search the area near Carroll’s home. They never found any sign of him and the case became inactive.

Eight years after Carroll vanished, in June 2013, human remains were found by a cattle owner leasing property for his herd several miles from Carroll’s home, Teton County Detective Sgt. Andrew Foster tells EastIdahoNews.com.

“Initial investigation efforts were inconclusive in determining the identity of the remains through anthropological experts at that time so the remains stayed in the custody of the sheriff’s office,” Foster says.

But earlier this year, Foster and Teton County Chief Deputy Bridger Smith attended a training about genealogical DNA analysis. It was the same type of investigative work used to solve a sexual assault that happened at the Victor City Park in 2017. Foster and Sgt. Kendall Bowser decided to take another look at Carroll’s case.

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“Detective Sgt. Foster made contact with Cyndi Hall, Quality Control Manager with Idaho State Police Forensic Services. Under Hall’s guidance, contact was made with the FBI DNA Casework Unit,” a Teton County Sheriff’s Office news release says.

The remains and DNA samples from Carroll’s immediate family were sent for analysis and investigators received positive identification on Friday, Oct. 16. Carroll’s family was informed of the big break Monday.

Deputies are now working to determine how Carroll died and ended up where he died.

“We’re hoping this may jog somebody’s memory who may have seen him riding his ATV or something like that,” Teton County Sheriff Tony Liford says.

Anyone with information on the disappearance or death is asked to call (208) 354-8783 to speak with Foster.