On June 20, 2003 human skeletonized remains were discovered in a storm basin along Craig Drive near Hwy 29 in Lawrenceville, Georgia. A homemade pipe commonly used to smoke crack cocaine was recovered near the remains. On the body was a short sleeved, cotton “Christopher Hawes” shirt, originally white or beige with a fine blue plaid pattern, and athletic socks. Forensic investigators determined the remains were that of a White/Caucasian male, between 45 and 55 years old, approximately 5’7-5’9″ tall. Authorities think the man died sometime between 2002 and 2003.
NamUs ID: UP9143
Date Body Found: June 20, 2003
Race: White / Caucasian
Estimated Age: 45-55
Estimated PMI: 1 or more years
Location: Lawrenceville, GA
Agency of Jurisdiction
Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office
Dr. Carol Terry, Pathologist
Link to More Information
On February 2, 2022 the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office (GCMEO) announced that the human remains found in a storm basin on Craig Drive in Lawrenceville, Georgia in 2003 were identified as those of Gordon D. Rexrode. GCMEO and DNA Doe Project (DDP) partnered to use DNA and genealogy to identify the remains in the nineteen-year-old cold case that became known as Gwinnett Co John Doe 2003.
Gordon Rexrode was born November 2, 1932 in West Virginia, and also lived in Alabama and Georgia before he disappeared from public records in 2002. He was estranged from his family and the connection was never made to the missing persons report they filed in 1998. His skeletal remains were discovered when city workers opened a manhole to clean out the storm drains.
In May, 2021, Pathologist Dr. Carol Terry of the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s office reached out to the DNA Doe Project for help identifying the remains that had been unidentified since 2003. A DNA sample was submitted to laboratory analysis and a profile was created and uploaded to GEDmatch, a public database. In November, genealogy work began on the case and the DNA Doe Project’s volunteer investigative genetic genealogists were able to use DNA matches to identify Gordon Rexrode as the likely candidate within a week.
“The Gwinnett County John Doe case was particularly interesting because we actually had some pretty strong numbers to work with,” DNA Doe Project Team Co-Leader Trish Hurtibise shared. Co-Leader Eric Hendershott added, “We quickly narrowed our search down to a particular county in West Virginia and discovered a number of common ancestors. The case also involved some endogamy, which was a bit intimidating at first.”
The DNA Doe Project wishes to acknowledge the contributions of the groups and individuals who helped solve this case: Dr. Carol Terry of the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s office, who entrusted the case to the DNA Doe Project; HudsonAlpha Discovery for DNA enrichment and sequencing; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for bioinformatics; GEDmatch and FTDNA for providing their databases; and DDP’s dedicated teams of volunteer investigative genetic genealogists who work tirelessly to bring victims back to their families and communities.
WXIA-TV 11 Alive’s video has more information regarding the search for the name of Gwinnett Co John Doe 2003.
Image credit: Clay reconstruction by Marla Lawson
Last Updated: February 3, 2022