Body found in Arizona desert identified as L.A. Army vet after 27 years

BUCKEYE, ARIZONA OCT. 10, 2022. The sun sets on the vast desert landscape along Sun Valley Parkway in Buckeye, a "road to nowhere" that was built years ago to connect dozens of huge master-planned communities, which now are in question because of lack of water. Colorado River water is delivered to Central Arizona via the Central Arizona Project Canal. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

Body found in Arizona desert identified as L.A. Army vet after 27 years

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Alexandra E. Petri

Sept. 13, 2023

Human remains that were found in the Arizona desert 27 years ago have been identified as those of a Los Angeles man and U.S. Army veteran, authorities said.

The body of Sherman George was identified using advanced DNA testing, according to Othram, a lab in


Woodlands, Texas, that assisted in Georges case and uses forensics grade genome sequencing to solve similar cold cases.

In 1996, two men out with their dogs discovered a set of human remains in a shallow grave under a juniper tree just a few miles outside of Kingman, Ariz., Othram said Monday on its website, The Mohave County Sheriffs Office responded to the scene. The man appeared to have died from a gunshot wound to the head, authorities determined.

Anthropologists from the University of Arizona concluded the remains belonged to a Black man between 30 and 40 years old and between 5-foot-10 and 6-foot-1, Othram said. But few other details emerged, and the case otherwise remained unsolved.

But in February, Sheriffs Office investigators sent forensic evidence to Othrams lab, which established a detailed DNA profile of the man and helped identify him as George. According to Othram, George served in the Army records indicate he was stationed at Ft. Liberty, formerly known as Ft. Bragg, in North Carolina and was known to go into the desert in California and Arizona with friends.

George was not reported as a missing person and was estranged from his family, whom he had last seen in 1994, Othram said.

Confirmation testing is underway, Othram said. Othram did not respond to requests for comment.

Bryce S. Dubee, a public affairs specialist for the Army, said the department does not currently have a file for George in its system and that records for


soldiers who left the service more than 15 years ago are transferred to the National Archives.

The Times submitted a records request to the National Archives.

The Mohave County Sheriffs Office did not respond to a request for comment.