Skeletal Remains Found In 1991 Finally Identified As Young Ohio Man

After 31 years, skeletal remains found in a shallow grave in Pickaway County, Ohio have been identified as Robert A. Mullins who was 21 at the time of his disappearance.

December 29, 2022
The remains of Robert A. Mullins, pictured here, were originally found on Nov. 1, 1991 but only identified in December 2022.

The remains of Robert A. Mullins were originally found on Nov. 1, 1991 near a farm in central Ohio but only identified as Mullins in December 2022.

Photo by: Pickaway County Sheriff's Office

Pickaway County Sheriff's Office

On Nov. 1, 1991, hunters discovered skeletal remains that had been placed in a shallow grave near a private farm in Pickaway County, Ohio. For three decades, the identity of the deceased individual went unsolved.

On Dec. 13, 2022, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost joined Pickaway County Sheriff Matthew O. Hafey to announce that the body was identified as Robert A. Mullins. He had gone missing in late 1988 or early 1989 when he was 21 years old and living on the northeast side of Columbus, Ohio.

“Thirty-one Christmases have gone by while this family waited for answers. When the results weren’t immediate and the case grew cool, Pickaway County law enforcement dug in their heels and kept trying until the evolution of DNA technology finally yielded an identity for John Doe,” Yost said, reported The Washington Post.

The journey to identifying Mullins involved multiple investigators with the sheriff’s and coroner’s offices who worked hard on the case over the years, and they used DNA technology as it advanced. In 2012, the body was identified as male with DNA testing. In 2019, an unidentified human remains case was opened, and DNA was taken from the original bones for more advanced testing.

Then, in 2021, investigators worked to solve the mystery with a focus on genetic genealogy. In January 2022, they contracted with AdvanceDNA which uploaded the DNA profile into Family Tree DNA and GEDmatch databases. Finally in Dec. 2022, the victim’s family were consulted, and his remains were positively identified after they provided a DNA sample.

“We’re all going to die at some point – it’s the one thing that’s certain about our lives on this earth, but what a tragedy to die unknown – to not have a name to put on a memorial. Today, that circle closes. And that’s the first step on the rest of justice,” Yost said, according to CNN.

Investigators believe that Mullins was likely a victim of homicide and now his murder remains an unsolved mystery. The case is now an open homicide investigation with the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office. If you have any information about the disappearance and murder, please contact Lt. Jonathan Strawser at 740-474-2176.

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