On February 18, 1982 the partial remains of an unidentified African American male were discovered by workers at a nearby business behind a now closed establishment at 3047 Cannon Road in Twinsburg, Ohio. They initially found a skull, but later, about 40 to 50 feet away, a garbage bag of bones. The deceased’s body, which showed evidence of stabbing, blunt force trauma, and postmortem fire, had been dismembered before being stuffed into the garbage bag. A forensic anthropologist estimated the man was small in stature, about 5′ 6, and was between 20 and 35 years old. The deceased may have had a noticeably humped back or slouched posture due to Kyphosis (a forward curvature of the spine). Investigators theorize the man or his killer may have worked at the former Chrysler Stamping Plant in Twinsburg.
NamUs ID: UP5830
Date Body Found: February 18, 1982
Race: Black/African American
Estimated Age: 20-35
Estimated PMI: years
Location: Twinsburg, OH
Agency of Jurisdiction
City of Twinsburg Police Department
Eric Hendershott, Detective
Links to More Information
On December 14, 2021 the City of Twinsburg Police Department (CTPD) in conjunction with the DNA Doe Project (DDP) announced that the partial remains of an African American male discovered in 1982 in Twinsburg, Ohio have been identified as Frank Little, Jr. CTPD partnered with DDP to use investigative genetic genealogy to locate potential relatives of the young man known for 39 years as Twinsburg John Doe 1982.
Frank Little, born August 23, 1943, had lost contact with his family when he was in his 20’s. His stabbed, beaten, and burned body was found behind a closed business in Twinsburg, Ohio. Investigators in 1982 theorized that he and/or his killer may have worked in the former Chrysler Stamping Plant in Twinsburg, but they were unable to confirm his identity. Authorities believed the man had been dead for several years before being discovered. Little was 39 at his time of death.
Years after the case went cold the third detective to take it over, Eric Hendershott, was determined to generate new leads and to solve the case. He reached out to the DDP in December, 2018. The DNA profile uploaded to GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA generated no close family matches, but did identify Laurens County, South Carolina as a possible location of the deceased’s relations.
Volunteer genealogists with the DNA Doe Project constructed over 70 family trees while trying to narrow a list of more than 4,000 distant matches. The case was finally solved after distant family members submitted DNA samples, and Detective Hendershott was able to locate a cousin who remembered some details about Little.
“It was a particular pleasure to co-lead this case with Dt. Hendershott from the Twinsburg Police Department. Our tight-knit researching group synergized well, and that sustained us through a long-haul and into pandemic times,” shared team leader L. Elias Chan. “Right out of the gate, the two top matches had unknown paternity. Eventually we were able to tease out important family groups that intersected with Twinsburg John Doe’s. From those, we began to systematically look for people to volunteer to upload to GEDmatch or FTDNA with the hope of narrowing the family groups further. All of us would like to extend heartfelt condolences to Frank’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
DDP wishes to acknowledge the contributions of those groups and individuals who helped solve this case: Detective Eric Hendershott of the Twinsburg, Ohio Police Department; the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation forensics team for DNA extraction; HudsonAlpha Discovery for DNA sequencing; Greg Magoon of Full Genomes Corp. for bioinformatics; GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA for providing their databases; our generous donors; and our extraordinary team of DDP investigative genetic genealogists.
News 5 Cleveland article has more information about the search for the identity of Twinsburg John Doe 1982.
Image Credit: Ohio BCI Forensic Art Unit
Last Updated: December 14, 2021