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Human remains found nearly 25 years ago in Kentucky ID'd as those of an FBI fugitive

Two fishermen found the body parts wrapped in tire chains and anchored with a hydraulic jack in a lake in 1999.

In 1999, two fishermen in Kentucky found human remains wrapped in heavy tire chains and anchored with a hydraulic jack in a lake.

With the aid of advanced DNA technology, state police on Monday identified the remains as those of Roger D. Parham, an FBI fugitive who was 53 when he fled a federal arrest warrant in Arkansas in connection with the alleged rape of a minor in 1998, according to bureau records.

Kentucky State Police said Parham's death is being investigated as a homicide.

Roger Parham.
Roger Parham.Kentucky State Police

Authorities believe Parham fled Arkansas and was possibly headed for Mexico after he was released on bond with conditions to appear in court at a later date on the rape charge, according to the FBI.

The bond was revoked when he failed to appear, and a federal arrest warrant was issued on a charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Kentucky State Police said multiple attempts were made over the years to identify the remains found in Lake Barkley, about 200 miles southwest of Louisville. Traditional investigative techniques were used when the remains were discovered in 1999, and the body parts were exhumed in 2016 for further examination.

"Despite extensive efforts using DNA technology, dental examinations, forensic pathology, and other advanced forensic testing, the victim remained unidentified," Kentucky State Police said in a news release.

A 3-D model of unidentified person.
A 3D model of the unidentified person.Kentucky State Police

Kentucky State Police said it began working earlier this year with a private laboratory specializing in forensic genealogy. The lab, Othram Inc., gained notoriety for helping to identify "the girl with the scorpion tattoo," who washed up beaten and strangled on a beach in Staten Island, a borough of New York City, 30 years ago, and a pair of human legs found on the side of a road in Montana, among numerous other cold cases.

Genealogy testing examines people's genomes to find their ancestral roots and link them to relatives, according to Othram's website. Testing of the Lake Barkley remains led to a person who was related to Parham, Kentucky State Police said.

"A relative had submitted their DNA in one of those store-bought kits," Dean Patterson, an investigative lieutenant with the state police post in Mayfield, said. "The crazy thing is you may do genealogy testing today and not get anything, then six months from now if somebody submits one of those kits on their own, you might get a hit. It's really by chance."

Patterson said Parham's DNA was entered in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) in 2016, which helped Othram labs find the match.

Parham's relatives in Oklahoma have since been notified that his body was found.