SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Bones found in 1989 in chimney identified as man who last contacted relatives in 1970

May 17, 2024, 11:29 AM

Madison Police Department Mid Town District Capt. Jason Freedman and Det. Lindsey Ludden talk with ...

Madison Police Department Mid Town District Capt. Jason Freedman and Det. Lindsey Ludden talk with members of the media during a press conference at the Madison Police Department's Central District in Madison, Wis., Monday, May 13, 2024. The press conference was held to announce the identification of Ronnie Joe Kirk of Tulsa, Okla. as the person whose remains were discovered in a chimney of a former music store in the city In 1989, . (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

(John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Human bones found inside the chimney of a Wisconsin music store in 1989 have been identified as those of a man whose last known contact with relatives was in 1970, authorities said.

The DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit that uses genealogy to identify unknown persons, announced this week that the bones are those of Ronnie Joe Kirk, who was originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

His bones and skull were found in September 1989 in Madison, Wisconsin, in a pile at the bottom of the narrow chimney of a since-demolished building that then housed a music store.

Authorities tried unsuccessfully to identify the remains of the person, whom they called “Chimney Doe.”

But in late 2018, Madison Police Detective Lindsey Ludden brought the case to the DNA Doe Project and hair samples from the skull were sent in 2021 to Astrea Forensics, a California-based DNA sequencing company that specializes in degraded samples.

Gwen Knapp of the DNA Doe Project said it took more than two years to develop a DNA profile suitable for investigating genetic genealogy. That led to the bones being identified as those of Kirk, who was born in 1942, was adopted, married twice and had three children.

“This was such a unique case with adoption, and multiple generations of different marriages, despite having a relatively close DNA relative match in the family,” Knapp said. “We’re so excited that we can give Ronnie Kirk his name back and hope his family has some closure for Ronnie being missing for so long.”

Madison police spokesperson Stephanie Fryer said Kirk’s last confirmed contact with relatives was in 1970, when he divorced his second wife in Missouri. Fryer said Kirk’s children, two from his first marriage and one from his second, are in their 50s and did not know each other until investigators contacted them.

Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said Kirk’s relatives have asked for privacy and no additional information was given about them, beyond a statement saying they were happy to finally know what had happened to him.

KSL 5 TV Live

Science & Technology

File - Workers install lighting on an "X" sign atop the company headquarters, formerly known as Twi...

Associated Press

What happened to the likes? X is now hiding which posts you like from other users

Social media platform X is now hiding your likes.

23 hours ago

FILE: The Apple Store at Towson Town Center Mall on May 10, 2024 in Towson, Maryland. (Photo by And...

Michael Liedtke, AP Technology Writer

Apple expected to enter AI race with ambitions to overtake the early leaders

Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference on Monday is expected to herald the company’s move into generative AI.

3 days ago

(left) The iconic photo from the Moon looking at Earth during the Apollo 8 voyage, taken by Astrona...

Associated Press

Former astronaut William Anders, who took iconic Earthrise photo, has died in Washington plane crash

The former Apollo 8 astronaut who took the iconic “Earthrise” photo showing the planet in 1968, was killed Friday in a plane crash.

6 days ago

FILE - A hiker passes a sign warning of extreme heat at the start of the Golden Canyon trail, in De...

Emma Benson

Extreme heat is leading cause of weather-related deaths; how to protect yourself

Extreme heat is the number one cause of weather-related deaths, which is why it's crucial to stay diligent in high temperatures to protect yourself and your loved ones.

8 days ago

Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends UFC 302 at Prudential Center on June 01, 2024 in Newark,...

Jill Colvin, Will Weissert, and Meg Kinnard, Associated Press

Trump joins TikTok and calls it ‘an honor.’ As president he once tried to ban the video-sharing app

Donald Trump has joined TikTok, the video-sharing app he once tried to ban as president. He posted his first video from a UFC fight in New Jersey on Saturday night.

10 days ago

FILE - The TikTok app logo appears in Tokyo, on Sept. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)...

Mary Culbertson

Utah files new lawsuit against TikTok, alleging it exploits teens on ‘virtual strip clubs’

The state of Utah filed its second lawsuit against TikTok, this time alleging that the platform sexually exploits teens and profits off what it says are "virtual strip clubs."

10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Bones found in 1989 in chimney identified as man who last contacted relatives in 1970