TOWNSHIP OF GANGES, Mich. – A western Michigan fisherman who disappeared in 2000 has been identified through DNA testing of a jaw bone that washed up on a beach 14 years later, police said Friday.
The DNA Doe Project, in conjunction with the Michigan State Police, determined that the jaw bone belonged to Ronald Wayne Jager of Fruitland Township. the Doe DNA Project is an all-volunteer group based in California whose mission is to identify John and Jane Does and return them to their families.
Jager was reported missing the day after his boat was launched in August 2000 in Whitehall. The boat ran aground on the Wisconsin shore 80 miles away, Michigan State Police said. US Coast Guard searches found no trace of Jager.
The weathered bone containing three teeth was discovered by a jogger running along the shore of Lake Michigan. State Police Detective Sgt. Scott Ernestes, who had worked with DNA Doe Project before, turned to him again for help.
The bone was sent to the University of North Texas, where genealogists this month compared the DNA to Jager’s relatives. Another partial set of remains found in Oceana County in 2014 also matched Jager.
Jager’s family has been notified of the game and his remains will be returned to his family, police said.
State Police Detective Sgt. Todd Workman praised the DNA Doe project.
“On behalf of MSP and the Jager family, we would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for the incredible work they undertake and the service they provide,” Workman said.
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