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After 23 years, Conception Bay John Doe is identified

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Summary

In May 2001, the partial skeletal remains of an unidentified person were discovered in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary went to the scene. The remains were determined to be those of a man who had dark, curly, shoulder-length hair and was between 18 and 29 years old at the time of his death. The man's remains were discovered in a wooded area off Minerals Road in Conception Bay South. Investigators worked tirelessly to confirm the man's identity and he became known as the Conception Bay John Doe. It was determined that Conception Bay John Doe had died by homicide.

Isotope analysis was performed and over the years forensic sketches were created and released to the public in the hope that they would help identify the murdered man. Despite extensive efforts by law enforcement investigators to identify the man, no matches were found and the case was not pursued due to a lack of viable leads.

In August 2021, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary turned over forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas, as part of its ongoing efforts to identify the man. Othram scientists were able to develop a DNA extract from the forensic evidence and then used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to create a comprehensive genealogical profile of the murder victim. Othram's in-house forensic genealogy team then used this profile to conduct genealogical research, ultimately providing law enforcement with new investigative lines.

Using this new information, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary conducted a follow-up investigation. Genealogical research and subsequent investigation determined that Conception Bay John Doe's ancestry traced back to the Iberian Peninsula, which largely consists of the countries of Spain and Portugal. However, low genetic matches and a lack of historical records made it difficult to search for and develop actionable leads in the case. Because genetic relatives could be traced back to Cuba, the reference testing required to determine John Doe's identity posed a particular challenge. In early 2024, a breakthrough in the investigation occurred when a match was found with a first cousin of the man. With this newly identified relative, potential family members residing in Cuba were identified for interviews and reference testing, leading to the identification of Conception Bay John Doe as Temistocle “Temi” Fernandez Casas.

Originally from Cuba, Casas disappeared in Canada over two decades ago after travelling from Cuba to Quebec City on a tourist visa in April 1992. There are no records of Casas' travels from Quebec City to Newfoundland and Labrador. Casas is believed to have died between 1997 and 1998 and was in his early 30s at the time of his death.

Now that Casas has been positively identified, investigators are attempting to put together a chronology of his activities in the last years and months of his life. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary would like to speak to any known acquaintances of Casas, in particular a certain Joanne Bergeron, who is believed to have spent some time in Cuba prior to April 1992, where she worked as a travel agent and would be about 68 years old today. A special email address has been set up to contact the investigation team directly. Please contact [email protected] with any information. You can also call 709-729-8000. To report a case anonymously, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit www.nlcrimestoppers.com.


Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Head of Case Management

2829 Technology Forest Blvd Suite 100, The Woodlands, Texas 77381

[email protected]

Michael works with law enforcement agencies across the United States and Canada on “unsolvable” cases that can benefit from modern DNA testing methods. He helps these agencies develop investigative approaches to their cases using cutting-edge DNA sequencing and new forensic techniques.