GANGES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A western Michigan fisherman who went missing in 2000 has been identified through DNA testing on a jaw bone that washed up on a beach 14 years later, police said Friday.
The DNA Doe Project, working with the Michigan State Police, determined the jaw bone belonged to Ronald Wayne Jager of Fruitland Township. The DNA Doe Project is an all-volunteer, California-based group whose mission is to identify John and Jane Does and return them to their families.
Jager was reported missing the day after he launched his boat in August 2000 in Whitehall. The boat washed ashore on the Wisconsin shoreline 80 miles away, Michigan State Police said. U.S. Coast Guard searches found no trace of Jager.
The weathered bone containing three teeth was discovered by a jogger running along the Lake Michigan shoreline. State police Detective Sgt. Scott Ernestes, who had worked with DNA Doe Project previously, turned to it again for help.
The bone was sent to the University of North Texas, where genealogists this month matched the DNA to relatives of Jager. Another partial set of remains found in Oceana County in 2014 also matched Jager.
Jager’s family was told about the match and his remains will be returned to his family, police said.
State Police Detective Sgt. Todd Workman lauded the DNA Doe Project.
“On behalf of the MSP and the Jager family, we would like to express our gratitude, and thanks for the amazing work they undertake and the service they provide,” Workman said.