Man’s Remains Identified in Cold Case from 2003

Steven Edward Gooch of Washington was recently identified after his remains were found near Marion almost 20 years ago

By Maggie Dresser
LEFT: Facial reconstruction of Cliff Doe, an unidentified man whose remains were found outside of Marion in 2003. - Courtesy Image; RIGHT: Photos of items that were found with human remains discovered near Marion in October 2003, including pages of a book, a handgun, a holster and a water bottle, as well as the unidentified man’s skull. - Photos by Hunter D’Antuono

Officials have identified a male whose remains were found near Marion in 2003 through a genetic genealogy investigation that solves cases of unidentified remains.

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office has positively identified the male as Steven Edward Gooch of Washington through the nonprofit DNA Doe Project.

Gooch’s family last heard from him in 1995 when he was 29 years old. According to his family, he was in San Diego and was possibly headed to Las Vegas. They reported him missing in 1996.

In October 2003, a hunter found Gooch’s skull in the woods near Redgate Road in Marion and a search was launched shortly after it was reported. Authorities found other bone fragments and items including a butterfly knife and .22 caliber bullets.

The skull and the other bones were sent to the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula and a report by the deputy state medical examiner was inconclusive on the cause of the death.

Almost two decades later, a team of volunteers with the DNA Doe Project partnered with the Flathead County Sheriff’s office where they worked for three years to identify Gooch.

In January, the team located several individuals who they believed could possibly be a relative of the unidentified male. The sheriff’s office made contact with one of the individuals who said his son had left the area of Bothell, Washington in 1995 and his family had not heard from him since.

The DNA Doe Project compared Gooch’s father’s DNA profile with the unidentified male’s DNA profile and confirmed his identity.

Related: Who is Cliff Doe?

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