Genealogy, DNA leads to identity of MS Coast homicide victim


After 40 years, Jackson County Sheriff’s investigators have identified the remains of a man found shot dead in the Escatawpa River as Louisiana native Gary Simpson.

The Sheriff’s Department has partnered with the Texas-based Othram, Inc.., to help identify Simpson, then 20, as the homicide victim.

The firm specializes in forensic genealogy to help authorities solve homicide and unidentified missing person cases. Simpson’s body was found on December 8, 1982, the same day Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputies discovered the body of an unidentified infant long known as Delta Dawn.

Othram helped Jackson County investigators first identify baby Delta Dawn in 2020 — nearly 38 years after her body was discovered — as 18-month-old Alisha Ann Heinrich.

Heinrich’s mother, 23-year-old Gwendolyn Clemons, was last seen alive at her family’s home in Joplin, Missouri on Thanksgiving Day 1982.

Othram used the same forensic genealogy tests to identify a potential relative of Simpson.

From there, retired Jackson County Sheriff Investigator Matt Hoggatt, who now works with Othram, tracked down what turned out to be Simpson’s brother for a DNA test that ultimately yielded the identity. leftovers.

An investigation into Simpson’s shooting death is ongoing. Authorities believe he had already been shot when his body was dumped in the river.

To report information, call the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at 228-769-3063 or Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 877-787-5898 or log on to and tip.

Gary Simpson_fitted.jpeg
Gary Simpson Courtesy of Othram, Inc. and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department

Margaret Baker is an investigative journalist whose search for the truth exposed corrupt sheriffs, a police chief and various jailers and led to the first federal hate crime prosecution for the murder of a transgender person. She worked on the Sun Herald’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Hurricane Katrina team. When she pursues a great story, she is relentless.


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