On June 21, 2021 a groundskeeper, while clearing ground cover, discovered a human body close to a trail on the southeast side of Metson Lake in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. The White/Caucasian male was lying on a blanket and sleeping bag, surrounded by trash and miscellaneous items. The man was wearing a tank top, dark jeans, underwear, and leggings. A small partial can of chewing tobacco was located in his rear pants pocket. During the autopsy the San Francisco Chief Medical Examiner estimated the man to be about 45 years old. There was no evidence of trauma on the body. Based on the condition of the body authorities estimate the man had died weeks before being found, earlier in 2021.
Case #: 2021-0808
Date Body Found: June 21, 2021
Estimated Age: 45
Estimated PMI: weeks
Location: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Agency of Jurisdiction
San Francisco Office of Chief Medical Examiner
Link to More Information
San Francisco, CA – The DNA Doe Project and the San Francisco Police Department have identified a man who died in 2021 in Golden Gate Park as Kurt Jerome Aken.
On June 21, 2021 a landscaper clearing ground cover discovered a man’s body close to a trail on the southeast side of Metson Lake in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The John Doe was lying on a blanket and sleeping bag, having died weeks before being found. There was no evidence of trauma on the body.
When detectives were unable to identify this John Doe, they reached out to the DNA Doe Project for help.
Right away, the team had an important clue – a match in the range of a first cousin that was on his maternal side. From this, the team was able to identify the specific branch of John Doe’s family tree, and determined he was one of six children. Only two of the siblings were male, and a proof of life study ruled out Kurt Aken’s brother.
“This case was unusual in two important ways – first, that the agency brought the DNA Doe Project in to help so soon after the John Doe’s remains were discovered. And second, that we had a DNA match from such a close relative,” said Team Leader Rhonda Kevorkian. “These two factors allowed us to confidently identify Mr Aken quickly.”
The DNA Doe Project wishes to acknowledge the contributions of the groups and individuals who helped solve this case: the San Francisco Police, who entrusted the case to the DNA Doe Project; HudsonAlpha Discovery for extraction and sequencing of DNA; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for bioinformatics; GEDmatch Pro for providing their database; and DDP’s dedicated teams of volunteer investigative genetic genealogists who work tirelessly to bring victims home.
Image Credit: composite by Jack Friess; original photo by Lisa Louis
Last Updated: March 30, 2023