ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – The remains of a man found on Fire Island just west of Anchorage in 1989 have been identified through DNA and genome sequencing, state soldiers said on Wednesday from Alaska.
Soldiers said the victim was Michael Allison Beavers, who owned an excavation business in Chugiak. He was reported missing in 1980.
The decades-long investigation began when human remains were discovered on July 24, 1989. An autopsy concluded that it was a 35- to 50-year-old Caucasian male, and the evidence found of the remains indicated the death was criminal, soldiers said. Authorities said it appeared the remains had been on the beach for at least a year, but the date of death could not be determined.
A DNA profile entered into the national missing persons database in 2003 returned without a match.
Earlier this year, the Cold Case Investigation Unit of the Alaska Bureau of Investigation reopened the case. The bone samples kept in the case were sent to a private lab, where DNA was extracted and genome sequencing was used to create a complete DNA profile.
This was uploaded to a genealogy database and linked to other people, including some with Alaskan ties. Later, a DNA sample taken from a close relative confirmed Beavers’ identity.
Beavers’ wife reported missing two months after she was last seen alive in November 1979.
Beavers, 40, left his home in Chugiak to drive to Seattle to contact an associate. It never happened, the soldiers said.
The investigation into his disappearance was blocked and closed in 1982. Ten years later, he was declared dead.
The soldiers say the investigation into his death is continuing and anyone with information about his disappearance and death should contact authorities.
In October, soldiers were able to use the same method to identify Robin Peleky, one of the unidentified victims of Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen, who was killed in the early 1980s.
Hansen kidnapped a woman, many of whom were sex workers, from the streets of Anchorage, and chased them into the wilderness north of Anchorage. A total of 12 bodies have been found, and 11 of them have been identified, soldiers spokesman Austin McDaniel told The Associated Press in October.
The only person who has not yet been identified is known as Eklutna Annie, who is believed to have been Hansen’s first victim, McDaniel said. His body was found near Lake Eklutna, north of Anchorage.
Genetic genealogy efforts are underway in hopes of identifying it, said Randy McPherron, an Alaska State Troopers cold case investigator, in October.