Body found 40 years ago near Dawson City identified by DNA

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A man whose body was found in a wooded area near the Dempster Highway in 1983 has been identified as Theodore Frederick Kampf, a 46-year-old American citizen from New Jersey who had been travelling in the Yukon. (RCMP - image credit)
A man whose body was found in a wooded area near the Dempster Highway in 1983 has been identified as Theodore Frederick Kampf, a 46-year-old American citizen from New Jersey who had been travelling in the Yukon. (RCMP - image credit)

A man whose body was found near Dawson City in 1983 has finally been identified, thanks to DNA evidence.

In a Sept. 14 news release, RCMP said the remains found in a wooded area near the Dempster Highway are those of Theodore Frederick Kampf, a 46-year-old American citizen from New Jersey who had travelled to the Yukon in July, 1981.

"From the beginning, his case was identified as a homicide, but when we found him in 1983, investigators didn't know his identity and it was hard to find any evidence," said Amy Clements, Yukon RCMP officer.

His identity remained unknown for 40 years, but RCMP were able to solve the mystery when they contracted Othram Inc., an American company, in fall 2020 that specializes in DNA analysis.

RCMP
RCMP

Although RCMP tested Kampf's DNA in national and international databases in 2019, no match was made.

David Mittleman, Othram's CEO, said that unlike traditional forensics, which can identify approximately 20 genetic markers, the technology his lab uses can identify hundreds of thousands of markers that can help identify very distant relatives.

That's how Othram was ultimately able to identify Kampf's remains

"We were able to identify very distant relatives, work back to try to figure out who he might be, and as we circled in on him, we discovered that he'd actually been reported missing," said Mittleman.

Othram also recently helped police identify the remains of a body found five years ago in Yukon's Lake Laberge.

Ongoing investigation

Police said in the news release that Kampf's "cause of death was and continues to be seen as suspicious" and the investigation remains open.

Kampf had travelled to the Yukon in July, 1981, and investigators believe he was murdered in the same month.

His family reported him missing in October after he stopped contacting them.

Clements said police always appreciate people coming forward with more information, as even the smallest details can make a big difference during an investigation.

RCMP are still looking for information from anyone who may have had contact with Kampf while he was in Yukon. They're asked to call or email the RCMP Historic Case tip line at (867) 667-5588 or MDIV_HCU@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.

Yukon RCMP's Historical Case Unit is currently working on 10 unresolved historical homicides, over 70 disappearances and 10 cases of unidentified human remains, according to Clements.

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