After almost two years of investigative genetic genealogy, the DNA Doe Project and the Summit County Coroner’s Office have identified remains located in the Sky Chutes in the Ten Mile Canyon across from Copper Mountain Ski Area in 2016 as Jeffery Lee Peterson, who was 57 years old at the time of his death.
In July, 2016 hikers discovered a human skull in a heavily wooded area just outside of the “Y” avalanche chute, near Copper Mountain, Summit County, Colorado. Nearly a month later searchers found additional skeletal remains and personal items nearby. A forensic pathologist determined the remains to be that of a white male between 30 to 50 years old, with strawberry blond hair. Damage to the skull was consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head from a Glock .45 handgun found near the remains. Items found with the body included a backpack with high-end hiking gear and clothing, but no form of identification of any kind. In fact the serial number on the firearm had been intentionally destroyed with a metal punch. A bottle water and a tube of Blistex with a manufacture date of 2012, indicated the man most likely died in 2012.
“Our dedicated team built a research tree made from distant cousins that led us into Norway, Sweden, and Poland. None of the DNA matches shared any common ancestors which made our hunt that much more difficult,” said team leader Missy Koski. “We knew we had found the right man in our tree when some old-fashioned Y-DNA research was combined with some new-fashioned research using DNA segment tools. This combination led our team to determine that we should be looking for a man with a Scandinavian father and a West Slavic mother.”
The DNA Doe Project wishes to acknowledge the contributions of the groups and individuals who helped solve this case: the Summit County Coroner’s Office, who entrusted the case to the DNA Doe Project; International Commission on Missing Persons for extraction of DNA; HudsonAlpha Discovery for sequencing; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for bioinformatics; GEDmatch Pro and FTDNA for providing their databases; the producers and followers of Gray Hughes Investigates; our generous donors who support our work; and DDP’s dedicated teams of volunteer investigative genetic genealogists who work tirelessly to bring victims home
On July 10, 2016 hikers in the White River National Forest discovered a human skull in an area known as the Sky Chutes between Copper Mountain Resort and Breckenridge, Summit County, Colorado. Nearly a month later, on August 3, 2016 searchers found human skeletal remains and personal items nearby. A forensic pathologist determined the remains to be that of a white male, 5’5 to 6’3, 30 to 50 years old, with strawberry blond hair. Evidence indicated he was a smoker. Damage to the skull was consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head from a Glock .45 handgun found near the remains. Two water bottles with the personal items were dated February 7, 2012, indicating the man most likely died in 2012. Other items found with the body, advanced survival gear including a high-tech headlamp and foot traction devices, were inconsistent with suicide and have baffled investigators.
NamUS ID: UP15466
Date Body Found: July 10, 2016
Estimated Age: 23-66
Estimated PMI: 4 years
Location: Breckenridge, CO
Agency of Jurisdiction
Park County Sheriff’s Office
Wendy Kipple, Detective Sergeant
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Last Updated: September 13, 2022