A child thought he’d found a rock — it was actually a Marine’s jawbone

by Vern Evans

A human jawbone discovered in the Arizona desert was recently identified as remains of U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Everett Leland Yager.

The issue? No one knew it was missing.

The 30-year-old World War II veteran was killed in July 1951 during a military training exercise over the skies of Riverside County, California. His remains were returned to his family and he was buried in his home state of Missouri.

Decades passed until a child, looking to build upon his rock collection, came across the unusual “stone” while scavenging in Yavapai County, Arizona.

Pocketed and taken home, the remains of Yager were swiftly turned over to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office where it became known as “Rock Collection John Doe” until January 2023.

That’s when, according to a press release from Rampo College of New Jersey, the “Yavapai County Medical Examiner referred the case to the Ramapo College of New Jersey Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) Center.”

With the assistance of the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification and Intermountain Forensics in Salt Lake City, a profile was developed last May and “uploaded to a portal supporting police and forensic teams with investigative comparisons, and FamilyTreeDNA, a Houston-based genetic testing company,” according to the Arizona news outlet AZ Family.

The researchers identified Yager as the most likely candidate for Rock Collection John Doe, and last month a sample taken from Yager’s daughter confirmed that the jawbone did in fact belong to her long-deceased father.

As to how Yager’s remains came to rest in Arizona? The team of investigators theorize that a scavenger bird picked up the bone sometime after the crash and carried it east.

Now, 73 years after his death, plans are being arranged to return Yager’s full remains to his family.

Claire Barrett is the Strategic Operations Editor for Sightline Media and a World War II researcher with an unparalleled affinity for Sir Winston Churchill and Michigan football.

Read the full article here

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