Skull found in Pennsylvania identified as missing New Jersey man from 1984

The skull of a man found in 1986 on the banks of the Delaware River in Morrisville has been linked to a missing Trenton man from 1984, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub announced on Monday.

News 12 Staff

Jan 30, 2023, 6:47 PM

Updated 530 days ago

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The skull of a man found in 1986 on the banks of the Delaware River in Morrisville has been linked to a missing Trenton man from 1984, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub announced in a statement on Monday.
The skull belonged to Richard Thomas Alt who was 31 years old when he was reported missing to the Trenton Police Department in early 1985. He was last seen on Christmas Eve 1984 by his parents.
Bucks County Detectives and Othram Inc., a private forensic DNA laboratory based in Texas, used forensic-grade genome sequencing and forensic genetic genealogy to identify the skull.
At the time of his disappearance, Alt and his girlfriend were suspected homicide victims in New Jersey. Her body was discovered in April 1985 in the Delaware River in Trenton. The cases remain unsolved, according to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
The investigation first began in June 1986 when a fisherman found a human skull on the banks of the Delaware River by the Morrisville Boat Ramp. The fisherman lived in Buckingham Township and took the skull to the Buckingham Township Police Department.
Bucks County detectives took possession of the human skull in October 2019 during a probe of a homicide investigation, but then relinquished it to the Bucks County Coroner’s Office. Later that year, the Bucks County Coroner’s Office entered the skull into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) database.
Building a profile from a contributor on that database, Othram officials believed the skull belonged to Alt. Bucks County detectives spoke to the contributor, a 49-year-old Florida woman, on Jan. 4.
The woman told detectives she was 11 years old when her father, Alt, went missing in Trenton. She said her father’s girlfriend was murdered in 1985 and her father had not been seen since.
She agreed to share her DNA results from the genealogy site with Othram. Four days later, Othram returned with a confirmed parent/child relationship match to Alt.
“I can’t even imagine wondering and worrying about a lost family member for even a day, let alone for 37 years. That wait is now over for Mr. Alt’s family,” Weintraub said. “I’m just glad that we could give them some peace of mind with this identification, and the eventual return of his remains to his family.”
“I hope that this powerful combination of technology and genealogy becomes the template for solving cold and current cases now and in the future,” Weintraub said.


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