On August 15, 1978 Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call to investigate human remains found by loggers in a remote wooded area near the Village of Warrens, Township of Knapp, Jackson County, Wisconsin. Search of the area by officials resulted in the recovery of a skull, lower mandible, and vertebra. The results of a limited autopsy indicated the deceased was a white male between the ages of 28 and 52. A silver-colored ‘Medi-Stud’ brand earring, normally used by piercing salons, was also discovered near the remains, leading investigators to theorize the deceased had at least one pierced ear. Any other remains were never located. The manner of death is recorded as ‘Presumed Homicide’.
NamUs ID: UP12415
Date Body Found: August 15, 1978
Estimated Age: 25-52
Estimated PMI: 1 – 4 years
Location: Township of Knapp, WI
Agency of Jurisdiction
WI Department of Justice, DCI
Joseph Welsch, Special Agent
Links to More Information
On March 31, 2021 the Wisconsin Department of Justice, DCI, (WDJ), the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), and the DNA Doe Project (DDP) announced the identity of a Wisconsin man known only as “Jackson County John Doe 1978” for 43 years as Dennis Regan McConn.
Born in 1947 in De Kalb, Illinois, Mr. McConn was last seen by his family leaving his home in Kenosha, Wisconsin in January 1977. On August 15, 1978 loggers found his remains in a remote wooded area in the Township of Knapp, Jackson County, Wisconsin more than 230 from Kenosha. His death is regarded as “presumed homicide”.
DDP was first contacted for assistance with this case in early 2019. After DNA extraction, sequencing, and bioinformatics were complete, files were uploaded to GEDmatch in September of 2020; the team began their research efforts on September 12. Extraction was difficult, however, and took several attempts by different laboratories. According to Team Leader Jenny Lecus, after data was finally uploaded to Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) in late November, within three days they were able to identify Jackson County John Doe 1978 as Dennis Regan McConn. In total the team spent over 270 hours in their research.
The DNA Doe Project wishes to acknowledge the contributions of those groups and individuals who helped solve this case: the WDJ-DCI and Special Agent Joseph Welsch who brought us the case; DNA Solutions and the International Commission on Missing Persons in The Hague for DNA extraction; HudsonAlpha Discovery for sequencing; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for bioinformatics; GEDmatch and FTDNA for providing their databases; our generous donors; and DDP’s dedicated teams of volunteer genealogists who researched and provided WDJ with the identity of the victim.
This is the third Wisconsin case in which DDP has been involved. Genealogical research for this case was provided pro bono by DDP volunteers. Their reward, Team Leaders say, is the thrill of helping provide a name once again to someone who has been known only as “John Doe” for so many years.
For more information on the search for the identity of Jackson Co John Doe:
Image Credit: UNT Center for Human Identification