On July 30, 2002 the body of an unidentified White/Caucasian male was discovered in an apartment in Eastlake, Ohio. He had committed suicide by gunshot approximately one week earlier. The autopsy revealed that the man was 65-70 years old and 5’7” tall. In trying to locate his family, authorities discovered the man had stolen the identity of an eight year old boy, Joseph Newton Chandler III, who was killed in a car accident outside of Weatherford, TX on December 21, 1945. Investigators, in trying to locate relatives of the deceased, discovered the identity theft, but could not establish any connection to the Chandler family. Also no usable fingerprints were available to help with the identification.
NamUs ID: UP13634 (archived)
Date Found: July 30, 2002
Estimated Age: 65-70
Estimated PMI: 1 week
Location: Eastlake, Ohio
Agency of Jurisdiction
United States Marshal Service
Peter J. Elliott, Marshal
On June 21, 2018 the U.S. Marshals Service announced the identification of the suicide victim known as Joseph Newton Chandler III as Robert Ivan Nichols. The DNA Doe Project (DDP) used genetic genealogy to locate distant family members which eventually led to the identification.
Robert Ivan Nichols was born on September 12, 1928 in New Albany, Indiana. He had worked for many years as an electrical designer and draftsman. Later, co-workers, who knew him as Joseph Chandler, described him as eccentric and quiet, with few friends.
After the DDP accepted Chandler as one of its earliest cases, forensic genealogy soon provided family information to pursue. Family trees were created using publicly available genealogy databases that led to common ancestors and, eventually, to distant relatives of the mystery man. A tentative identification was made on March 5, with confirmation a week later through the testing of a close family member.
The DDP could not have identified Robert Nichols alone and wishes to thank Peter J. Elliott, United States Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio for entrusting this case to us; Dr. Weining Tang at AMD Biotech for sequencing; Justin Loe, Full Genomes Corp.; Dr. Greg Magoon, Aerodyne Research Corp.; GEDmatch; and our team of dedicated DDP volunteers for their assistance with the case.
We also thank family members for their assistance and cooperation. Our sincere sympathies go out to them for their loss.
For more information on the search for the identity of Joseph Newton Chandler III:
Links to additional Joseph Newton Chandler articles
Last Updated: July 8, 2021