New HampshireDepartment of JusticeOffice of the Attorney General

News Release

For Immediate Release
September 28, 2023

Michael S. Garrity, Director of Communications | (603) 931-9375

New Hampshire Cold Case Unit and Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Collaborate to Solve Unidentified Person Case

Concord, NH – Attorney General John M. Formella, State Police Colonel Mark B. Hall, and Chief Medical Examiner Jennie V. Duval, M.D. announce that a collaborative effort involving the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit working with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) has led to the successful closure of a previously unidentified person case.

In June of 1991, then 78-year-old Benjamin Adams left his residence in Canaan, New Hampshire to go out for a walk and did not return. Adams’ family said he had been suffering from dementia. Search efforts for Mr. Adams were unsuccessful.

Nearly six years later, in November of 1996, a hunter discovered some skeletal remains in a wooded section of Hanover, New Hampshire. A search of that area resulted in the recovery of additional human bones. Due to the vicinity of Mr. Adams’ last known location, investigators suspected the remains might be that of Mr. Adams.

In 1997, the recovered remains were sent to an out of state forensic anthropologist. That examination indicated that the biological characteristics were not inconsistent with those of Benjamin Adams, but a positive identification could not be made. 

Recently, forensic investigators with OCME, the University of New Hampshire F.A.I.R. Lab, and the State Police Major Crime and Cold Case Units reexamined this case and believed they could potentially close it by utilizing modern DNA testing technologies. As a part of their reexamination, they were able to connect with Benjamin Adams’ son and obtain a sample of his DNA. That sample, along with certain skeletal remains, were then sent to a private contract lab for DNA comparison testing. The lab, Bode Technology, confirmed the probability of relatedness is “at least 99.999998%” and the DNA evidence is “at least 42 million times” more likely to be from “a biological parent as compared to untested and unrelated individuals”.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is now in the process of coordinating the reunification of Mr. Adams’ remains with his family.

This case emphasizes the State’s dedication to utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to investigate unidentified and missing persons cases.

benjamin wearing straw hat
benjamin in front of woods

New Hampshire Department of Justice
1 Granite Place South | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658