Everett Ruess Mystery Solved! DNA Results Prove Skeleton in Utah Desert is Ruess
Photographs: Everett Ruess, in a previously unpublished 1933 portait by Dorothea Lange. Utah’s Comb Ridge; Denny Bellson and Daisy Johnson; archaeologist Ron Maldonado by Dawn Kish (3).
At 1 p.m. EST today, during a press conference with reporters from Newsweek, the New York Times, the L.A. Times, and others, ADVENTURE announced some thrilling news. After a yearlong investigation by NGA contributing editor David Roberts, DNA tests have confirmed that a body found in the Utah desert is, indeed, that of famed explorer and artist Everett Ruess, solving a mystery that has baffled law enforcement for more than 75 years.
You can read all about the discovery of the gravesite in the current issue of ADVENTURE (read an excerpt here). And while the story includes some remarkable evidence—a Navajo tale of murder in the desert, some CSI-style forensic tests—the DNA results are definitive.
To complete the tests, a team of researchers from the University of Colorado compared the DNA of a femur found at the site to saliva samples taken from four of Ruess’s nieces and nephews, the closest living relatives. The results were spot-on. “This was a textbook case,” says Dr. Kenneth Krauter. “We had a large number of markers [600,000] and, when comparing the bone DNA and the Ruess samples, the mode of inheritance of those markers was exactly what you’d expect for the relationship between an uncle and a niece or nephew.” That’s science-speak for: This is Everett Ruess. So keep an eye out further Ruess coverage and check back here for updates. Here’s the official press release.
Everett Ruess captured the imaginations of generations of people who lived and visited the Southwest. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this discovery. Please post comments below.
More NGA Everett Ruess Online Coverage
Read an excerpt from the article “Finding Everett Ruess” (on newsstands now)
Video Exclusive: See the gravesite before it was excavated
Evidence Photo Gallery: See the items found in the crevice
Skull Reconstruction: See how the bones match the man
More Media Coverage
- Nat Geo Expeditions
A Mystery of the West Is Solved – New York Times
Remains ID’d of vagabond poet who vanished in ’30s – Associated Press
Remains of a lost American explorer found – San Francisco Chronicle
CU scientists help solve 75-year-old mystery of Everett Ruess – Daily Camera