Oldest unidentified missing person case in Oregon solved, police say

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – A child who was found dead in rural Jackson County nearly 60 years ago has been positively identified.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said in 1963, a Rogue River man found a 2-year-old boy’s body while fishing in Keene Creek Reservoir in the hills above Ashland. The boy was reportedly wrapped in blankets, bound in wire, and weighed down to keep his body hidden.

Jackson County took over the case after the gruesome discovery was made. However, it eventually turned cold and remained that way until the case was reopened about 15 years ago.

In August of 2008, the boy’s body was exhumed from the Hillcrest Memorial Park cemetery and a DNA sample was taken. However, there were no matches with a national DNA database.

Investigators said the next big break came in 2020 when a tissue sample was submitted to open-source DNA repository GEDMatch. At that point, two of the boy’s potential siblings were found. One of them was tracked down in Ohio and said his younger half-brother with Down syndrome born in New Mexico disappeared when he was a child.

“Upon further investigation, a birth certificate was uncovered,” JCSO wrote, “and after 58 years the Keen Creek baby Doe had a name: Stevie Crawford, born 10-2-1960.”

A retired detective sergeant, Colin Fagan, never gave up on the case. He told NBC5 News Monday, out of the countless cases he’s been on, this one always stuck out to him.

“To have a case that we’re able to bring a story back to life. To reunite him with his family and ancestors, I think is just important and very satisfying,” Fagan told NBC5 News.   

The sheriff’s office added, “Through the years, many people were instrumental in assisting to identify Stevie, often providing their time and efforts free-of-charge. Some of these people include Hillcrest Memorial Park cemetery’s Jed Ramey, who donated the work for the 2008 exhumation. East Main Dental Center (Medford) Dr. Gregory Pearson and Dr. Hal Borg, donated time and services for the dental identification which revealed congenital defects. University of Oregon Forensic Anthropologist, Dr. Jeanne Mclaughlin, donated her time and efforts to skeletonize the remains for analysis and DNA extraction. Lastly, the JCSO detectives who logged many unpaid hours in attempting to identify Stevie, including Sgt. Colin Fagan, detective Tim Pike, and special investigator Jim Tattersal.”

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