A collaborative effort between the California Department of Justice and Othram Labs, a genealogy laboratory focused on law enforcement investigations, has successfully identified Rodney Rumsey of Sacramento, whose body was discovered in 1982.
Rumsey’s remains were found near Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz County. The cause of death was presumed to be homicide, yet the case went unsolved for 41 years. Despite his distinct tattoos, there was no match with any missing person records.
Michael Vogen, the director of account management at Othram Labs, elaborated on the laboratory’s role. “Othram is the first private laboratory in North America built specifically to generate human identification from forensic and crime scene evidence,” Vogen noted. He added that they are currently working on multiple cases in California and achieving significant results.
The key to solving Rumsey’s case came through a partnership between Othram and the California Department of Justice. “We received a DNA extract from bone provided by the California DOJ, with the Santa Cruz police’s consent,” Vogen explained. The laboratory then conducted a suitability analysis on the DNA.
Othram’s advanced technology can examine hundreds of thousands of DNA markers, enabling them to trace distant relatives and then pinpoint direct family members.
“In this particular case, genealogical research directed us towards a specific family,” Vogen said. “Subsequently, the FBI utilized fingerprinting to confirm Rumsey’s identity once they had potential leads.”
As a result of these combined efforts, law enforcement could finally identify the body that had remained nameless for decades. Rodney Rumsey was born on May 25, 1954. As of now, the Santa Cruz Police Department hasn’t released details about the family members they’ve notified regarding the identification.
Although this case has brought resolution to one family, Othram Labs emphasized that their work continues. “While this case transitioned from an unidentified remains inquiry to a homicide investigation, there are more cases awaiting resolution,” Vogen said.
Authorities have requested anyone with information about Rodney Rumsey’s death to contact the Santa Cruz Police Department.