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Remains Found in Cook County in 2019 Identified Using Genealogy Technology

The GBI has identified human remains found in a Cook County pond on March 4, 2019, as Jeremiah Garretson, of Nashville, Berrien County, Georgia.  Garrettson was 36 years old when he was found.

On March 4, 2019, the GBI received a request from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office to assist with a death investigation. At about 8:00 a.m., Cook County 911 received a call about a body found in a pond on Ed Lindsey Road in Lenox, GA.  Deputies arrived on the scene and found the partially decomposed body of a white male in the pond. Department of Natural Resources rangers assisted in recovering the body. The GBI Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy and determined the cause of death was drowning and the manner of death was accidental.

During the initial investigation, agents searched missing person reports from Cook, Berrien, Tift, Lowndes, Colquitt, Lanier, and Brooks counties with no matches.  Agents obtained DNA and fingerprints from the remains and sent them to the GBI crime lab.  Scientists compared the DNA and fingerprints in the CODIS and AFIS databases with no matches.  A GBI forensic artist created a sketch of what the person may have looked like, which was eventually distributed to the public. The sketch provided multiple leads, none of which produced a match. A case was also opened with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).

In late 2022, the GBI began working with Othram, a company that uses advanced DNA testing to solve cases.  Othram, Inc., based in The Woodlands, Texas, is a leader in using Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing to develop comprehensive genealogical profiles. In 2023, the GBI sent forensic evidence to Othram, Inc. Based on the DNA, a genealogical search produced investigative leads that led to Garretson’s identification.  Garretson’s family was notified in May 2023 about the identification.

The Alapaha Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office was instrumental in this case.  They contributed a significant portion of funding for the testing, supplying resources that eventually helped our agents close this unsolved case.

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