MORRISVILLE, Pa. (AP) – Authorities say a skull found more than 3 1/2 decades ago on the banks of the Delaware River in Pennsylvania has been identified as that of a man long believed to have died, along with his girlfriend, whose body was killed in New Jersey was found in the river on the New Jersey side the previous year.
Bucks County prosecutors said Monday that detectives and a private forensic DNA lab identified the skull, found on the banks of the river in Morrisville in 1986, as that of Richard Thomas Alt, 31, who was last known to his parents Christmas Eve 1984 was reported missing to Trenton Police in early 1985.
At the time of his disappearance, Alt and his girlfriend were suspected murder victims in New Jersey, and their bodies were found in the river in Trenton, Mercer County in April 1985, District Attorney Matt Weintraub said.
“I can’t imagine wondering and worrying about a lost family member for even a day, let alone 37 years. That wait is now over for Mr Alt’s family,” Weintraub said in a statement. “I’m just glad that with that identification and the eventual return of his remains to his family, we were able to give them some peace of mind.”
Weintraub expressed his gratitude for the technical expertise made available at no cost by Texas-based Othram Inc., as forensic genome sequencing and forensic genetic genealogy were used to identify the skull found by a fisherman on the shore in June 1986 of the river was found by the Morrisville Boat Ram.
The county coroner’s office entered the skull into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database. Last September, detectives shipped the skull to Othram after officials at the The Woodlands, Texas-based company said they had found a possible match in a public genealogy database, prosecutors said.
The DNA worker, a 49-year-old Florida woman, told detectives Jan. 4 that she was 11 when Alt, her father, disappeared in Trenton. She agreed to share her DNA results from the genealogy website with Othram, who said four days later that the parent-child relationship match had been confirmed. said prosecutors.
The Bucks County Attorney’s Office said it considered its investigation closed “because there is no evidence of a crime committed in Bucks County.” They said the New Jersey Attorney’s Office considered their cases unresolved. A message was sent Monday asking for comments and details about the Mercer County cases.