ELLENSBURG – Since 1978, Kittitas County’s resident skeleton has had no identity and no past…until now.
Recently, Kittitas County Coroner Nick Henderson was able to identify the 45-year-old remains of a person who was found near Westside Road in Upper Kittitas County in May of 1978.
According to the coroner’s office, the remains were sent to CWU’s anthropology department where Dr. James Alexander analyzed the decedent who was initially determined to be a woman about 30-40 years of age, who had been dead for three to nine months.
A forensic pathologist and an odontologist in Wenatchee also studied the deceased being, but insufficient resources compromised their ability to identify the body.
In the following years, Kittitas County Sheriff’s detectives continued to investigate to identify remains.
In the early 2000’s a DNA sample was obtained from the remains and was sent to the King County Medical Examiner’s office for more analysis. After some time, Washington State Anthropologist Dr. Katherine Taylor sent another DNA sample to the University of North Texas Health Center Laboratory due to its improved DNA technology. The Texas college couldn’t identify the body, but it did confirm that the body was that of a male.
In 2020, Kittitas County Coroner Nick Henderson submitted a sample of the DNA originally taken by the University of North Texas for comparison to a forensic genealogy data base. Genealogical DNA analysis used a wider spectrum of DNA information, like that used by Ancestry.com or 23andme.com, to find both close and distant relatives.
In December 2021, a possible sibling for the deceased person found in 1978 was identified. Coroner Henderson has been in contact with the sibling and other family members and has now confirmed the identity of the remains to be that of Donald Grant Anderson.
Anderson was originally from Minnesota and had been in Washington state a short time prior to being reported missing by the Bellevue Police Department in 1977.
The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office is now investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Anderson.