41-Year-Old Cold Case From Arizona Identifies Man Who Hunted For Gold
A 41-year-old cold case out of Arizona has now been solved after human remains were found in the desert. They
A 41-year-old cold case out of Arizona has now been solved after human remains were found in the desert. They belonged to a man who left California in search of gold. But his storybook dreams of striking it rich turned to tragedy. And now, four decades later, the sad ending to his story finally gets its closing chapter.
Mystery Remains Spend Decades In Limbo
On September 9, 1982, human remains were discovered in the Arizona desert. The remains were located in a rural desert area around Hackberry Road near Kingman. Along with the body, authorities were able to recover a hair comb, a can opener, fingernail clippers, a toothbrush, a tattered short-sleeve shirt, and remnants of denim pants.
However, the person’s identity remained elusive. A medical examiner in Tucson was able to identify the mystery person as a “white male, 55+ years old, between 6’1” and 6’2.” Officials could not determine a cause of death at the time. And they placed his passing sometime between 1979 and 1981.
The Mohave County Medical Examiner’s Office obtained the remains in 2020. Since then, they have tried to identify the mystery victim but were unsuccessful. Until, that is, February 2023.
41-Year-Old Cold Case From Arizona Came From Man On The Hunt For Gold
In February, the cold case was cracked when investigators were able to provide a sample from the victim to Othram Inc. Othram is a genetic laboratory that operates in Texas, and they were able to identify the long-mysterious body. In a statement about the long-standing case, the sheriff’s office said, “Using advanced DNA testing, forensic-grade genome sequencing, and forensic genetic genealogy, they were able to identify the victim as Virgil R. Renner from Humboldt County, California.”
Renner is believed to have been born in 1910 and was survived by a brother and a sister. Unfortunately, both siblings have long since passed away. Renner died with no children and no known surviving family. Which is why his mysterious death remained untracked for so long. Othram used DNA from distant relatives to ultimately identify the missing man and provide some closure to a community that had long wondered about his disappearance.
According to the sheriff’s office, Renner left California on a pie-in-the-sky hunt for gold. Their statement explained, “Information passed down to investigators revealed that Renner left California in the early 1970’s to search for gold in Nevada.” It’s unclear why Renner ended up in Arizona, however.
While no family appears to be left behind to mourn Renner, every solved cold case is a win for the human story.