1961 Alabama Car Accident Victim Identified After 60 Years

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Nov. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Identifinders International in conjunction with the Bibb County, Alabama Coroner’s Office, announces the identification of a boy known as Bibb County John Doe as then 15-year-old Daniel Paul Armantrout. The boy drowned on March 27, 1961 when the car he was riding in struck a guardrail and plunged into the Cahaba River. The surviving driver survived was not able to identify the teenager, whom he told authorities had been hitchhiking across several states.

The identification of Armantrout is a landmark as the oldest case solved for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) using genetic genealogy. This development is welcome news to residents of Centreville, Alabama. Some of the original funeral expenses were raised by local schoolchildren and pallbearers were among the community’s most prominent citizens. In 2016, NCMEC financed an exhumation and DNA analysis on his remains. Those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful due to the age and state of the samples.

The case was reopened earlier this year when advanced processing techniques not available in 2016 were used to obtain DNA from several of the boy’s incisors. The resulting raw data allowed Identifinders genealogist Misty Gillis to identify Armantrout. Costs for the 2021 investigation were underwritten by a generous donation from web sleuth and YouTube personality, Gray Hughes.

West was shocked when he received the call that not only had the boy been identified, but also Identifinders genealogists had located his surviving sibling, Donald Hamilton, 77, of Seminole, Florida. "I’m not gonna lie, I’m shedding a tear right now," West told the Identifinders team.

The youngest of three brothers, young Armantrout was from a troubled home. Donald left to join the Army not long before Danny ran away from home. The oldest brother David also left home about the same time and is still unaccounted for.

"This case was challenging because the DNA was severely compromised," said Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick, President of Identifinders.  "We pushed the technology and it’s a DNA miracle, really."

The town of Centreville has big plans for Danny’s family. A graveside memorial is planned for late December.

Identifinders International works with law enforcement agencies using genetic genealogy to solve cold case violent crimes and to identify John and Jane Does. For more information, please visit www.identifinders.com.

Media contact:
Allison Peacock



SOURCE Identifinders International, LLC

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