GA DECATUR JOHN DOE: BM, 4-8, found near church cemetery in Dekalb County, GA - 26 Feb 1999

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An unidentified deceased boy was found on February 26, 1999. His body was found in a wooded area near a small church cemetery on Clifton Springs Road in South DeKalb County, Georgia. The boy had been deceased for several months before he was found. He is estimated to have been between 4-8 years old at the time of his death in late 1998 to early 1999. He stood approximately 4’00” tall and weighed about 50 pounds. The child was found wearing a blue plaid and navy hooded sweatshirt (size XL), red denim jeans (size 3), and Timberland boots (size 11). Images of the shoes and sweatshirt are featured above. Advance forensic analysis of his teeth and bones suggest that he was born and raised in the Southeastern United States, most likely from Georgia or Florida. The images above are a facial reconstruction completed by NCMEC Forensic Artist that depicts what the child may have looked like in life.



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SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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Date of Discovery: February 26, 1999
Location of Discovery: Decatur, DeKalb County, Georgia
Estimated Date of Death: Months prior
State of Remains: Skeletal
Cause of Death: Undetermined

Estimated Age: 4-8 years old
Race: Black
Sex: Male
Height: 3'10" to 4'2"
Weight: 45 to 60 lbs.
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Unknown
Distinguishing Marks/Features: Unknown

Dentals: Available. He had wide gaps between his bottom front teeth.
Fingerprints: Not available.
DNA: Available.

Clothing: Long-sleeved-hooded pullover shirt, somewhat unique because it was made of two different materials. The body of the shirt was a blue plaid material, while the sleeves and the hood were a dark blue thermal. He also was wearing red denim jeans and a new pair of Timberland brown suede hiking boots, size 11 (medium). Timberland introduced this style of boot to the Atlanta area in June 1998, months before they went on sale nationwide.

Circumstances of Discovery
On February 26, 1999, the skeletal remains of this boy were discovered in a wooded area in a cemetery located off Clifton Springs Road in Dekalb County, GA. Investigators suspect whoever disposed of the remains at this location was familiar with the area.

Investigators have not been able to determine the child's cause of death, but acetaminophen and anti-nausea medicine were found in his system. The child appeared to have been well taken care of, he had clean teeth and clothes.

Forensic testing on his bones suggested he was from the local area, Atlanta, Southern Georgia or Northern Florida.

The boy has been nicknamed "Dennis" by investigators.

 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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His body was found in a wooded area near a church cemetery on Clifton Springs Road in south DeKalb County on February 26, 1999.

The child was wearing size 11 (medium) Timberland brown suede boots.

The child was wearing denim jeans and a long-sleeve hooded pullover shirt made of two different materials; the body of the shirt was blue plaid and the sleeves and hood were dark blue thermal.




The body was found skeletonized. The child appeared to have been well-cared for and may have been from either Georgia or possibly northern Florida.

In October 1999, a woman using the name "Dawn Anderson" called the coroner's office and stated the child's name was Cabell Brown. It has been stated due to the woman's emotional state as well as the quality of the phone call, the child's actual name could have been somewhat different than what was recorded.

The call was traced to the Florida Institution of Technology in Melbourne, Florida, They were unable to locate someone using the woman's name or any report of a missing boy with the same name.

"Dennis" was a child found deceased near a church cemetery in 1999. He received his nickname from authorities who were working on his case.

 

Sllywbbt32

Active member
The fact that LE traced the call and found that it came from the Florida Institute of Technology makes me wonder if it was a student or faculty member who called. The emotional state of the caller makes me think it was a family member (maybe his Mom) that knew what happened to this poor young boy.
A lot of the time children found deceased are not as well looked after as he seems to be, it's just a little unusual.
 

Kimster

Let's Find Michael Bryson!
Staff member
The fact that LE traced the call and found that it came from the Florida Institute of Technology makes me wonder if it was a student or faculty member who called. The emotional state of the caller makes me think it was a family member (maybe his Mom) that knew what happened to this poor young boy.
A lot of the time children found deceased are not as well looked after as he seems to be, it's just a little unusual.
That makes sense, especially because he was at a church cemetery. That to me shows that he was cared about somehow.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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In 1999, investigators built a clay reconstruction of the boy’s face, hoping someone would come forward.

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During a press conference at the time, they showed the boy’s size 11 Timberland hiking boots. The product number listed on the shoes shows they were sold east of the Mississippi River. Investigators believe he was about 4 feet tall and weighed less than 60 pounds.

He was wearing a large hooded sweatshirt and red denim jeans when he died. New forensic analysis of the boy’s bones and teeth suggest that he was likely born in the Southeast – maybe Georgia, or Florida.



Weeks after his body was found, Clifton United Methodist Church held a memorial service for the unknown boy.

“I cried. It was just so sad to think someone would give birth to a child and not miss it,” a woman told 11Alive outside the church in 1999.

Another woman told reporters she drove past the cemetery every day and was shocked to learn a boy was abandoned there.

“I think its sad. Someone should have been looking for this child by now.”

A blank headstone was placed at the cemetery where the boy’s body was found. It remains a symbol of an unknown life, that was lost.

 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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The fact that LE traced the call and found that it came from the Florida Institute of Technology makes me wonder if it was a student or faculty member who called. The emotional state of the caller makes me think it was a family member (maybe his Mom) that knew what happened to this poor young boy.
A lot of the time children found deceased are not as well looked after as he seems to be, it's just a little unusual.

I agree. Someone knows exactly who he is and what happened to this child. Leaving him near a church cemetery makes me think they wanted him to be in a "nice" place, not like children who get dumped in a river or ditch. Nice clothing. No signs of abuse.

acetaminophen and anti-nausea medicine were found in his system

Was he sick and they were unable to afford a doctor? Perhaps an undocumented immigrant family? Or a family member with a record who didn't want to be taken in? Did they just assume that his illness wasn't as serious as it actually was and then felt immense guilt?

It's a shame that DNA Doe Project doesn't take on cases of children. I feel like DNA could give this case a huge helping hand, and probably solve it.
 

Kimster

Let's Find Michael Bryson!
Staff member
I agree. Someone knows exactly who he is and what happened to this child. Leaving him near a church cemetery makes me think they wanted him to be in a "nice" place, not like children who get dumped in a river or ditch. Nice clothing. No signs of abuse.



Was he sick and they were unable to afford a doctor? Perhaps an undocumented immigrant family? Or a family member with a record who didn't want to be taken in? Did they just assume that his illness wasn't as serious as it actually was and then felt immense guilt?

It's a shame that DNA Doe Project doesn't take on cases of children. I feel like DNA could give this case a huge helping hand, and probably solve it.
I didn't know they don't take on children? Do you know what the philosophy behind it is?
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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I didn't know they don't take on children? Do you know what the philosophy behind it is?

I looked into this a bit more. They avoid "abandoned baby" cases and children. They've said it's because "the mother usually becomes a person of interest" and they are not able to help on criminal cases (probably due to legal reasons).

So it seems like, because MOST of the time, an unidentified young child is going to be the victim of their parents. Which puts them into the "searching for criminals" part of DNA technology instead of just "identifying victims".



“A Baby Doe case is a special category,” says Colleen Fitzpatrick, who cofounded the nonprofit DNA Doe Project with fellow genealogist Margaret Press. “It breaks apart this neat dichotomy between finding criminals who might still be dangerous and finding victims.”

Together with a network of volunteers skilled in family-tree making, Fitzpatrick and Press help police put names to unidentified human remains—mostly murder victims. But the organization avoids abandoned baby cases because identifying the child means identifying the mother. And as in Bentaas’ case, many mothers in neonaticide cases are often children (or nearly children) themselves. Sometimes they’re even victims of rape or incest.

Fitzpatrick and Press worried that investigating these incidents would not provide closure to families but would instead open them up to criminal prosecution.

 

Kimster

Let's Find Michael Bryson!
Staff member
I looked into this a bit more. They avoid "abandoned baby" cases and children. They've said it's because "the mother usually becomes a person of interest" and they are not able to help on criminal cases (probably due to legal reasons).

So it seems like, because MOST of the time, an unidentified young child is going to be the victim of their parents. Which puts them into the "searching for criminals" part of DNA technology instead of just "identifying victims".



“A Baby Doe case is a special category,” says Colleen Fitzpatrick, who cofounded the nonprofit DNA Doe Project with fellow genealogist Margaret Press. “It breaks apart this neat dichotomy between finding criminals who might still be dangerous and finding victims.”

Together with a network of volunteers skilled in family-tree making, Fitzpatrick and Press help police put names to unidentified human remains—mostly murder victims. But the organization avoids abandoned baby cases because identifying the child means identifying the mother. And as in Bentaas’ case, many mothers in neonaticide cases are often children (or nearly children) themselves. Sometimes they’re even victims of rape or incest.

Fitzpatrick and Press worried that investigating these incidents would not provide closure to families but would instead open them up to criminal prosecution.


I never would have thought of that. Thank you for looking that up! Quite interesting.
 

Mel70

Well-known member
Accidental overdose. Panic. It stikes me like many others his nice clothing and personal care that it doesn't appear neglect or abuse related. But it then bothers me. No one misses this Child 4-8 Yes old?. That always baffles me.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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Accidental overdose. Panic. It stikes me like many others his nice clothing and personal care that it doesn't appear neglect or abuse related. But it then bothers me. No one misses this Child 4-8 Yes old?. That always baffles me.

I think they would have found drugs in his system if there was an overdose. They mentioned finding acetaminophen (Tylenol) and anti-nausea medicine. It's possible it was there and they didn't release it though.
I'm leaning toward him being very ill, perhaps with the flu or similar, and the family not being able to afford medical care, or being undocumented and afraid to seek care, or the family not realizing it was as serious as it was. JMO.
 
With the Tylenol being found in his system it seems it would be possible that it was an accidental overdose and the parents were afraid they would be charged with neglect or some other crime related to his death so they disposed of his body instead of seeking help. Regarding the phone call about his identity maybe the caller said "Caleb Brown" that would make more sense to me. I don't understand how regardless of circumstances a child can just disappear and no one miss him I would think that someone would notice if the family that used to have a kid doesn't have one anymore.
 

GrandmaBear

‘We Have Nothing to Fear Except Fear Itself'
It is probably nothing but in one of the first posts it says the jeans are a size 3. Are these like junior girls jeans because the child sounds tall enough and old enough not to be wearing a toddler 3... It's no big deal just something I noted.

I don't entirely understand how if he was skeletonized they can know he was well taken care of, I am even surprised they were able to find anything in his system if skeletonized. But then, I don't know much about what they can do or tell when...

It is very difficult to believe no one is looking for him unless it was foul play by a family member.

I agree Caleb seems like the more likely name. I can't believe that lead led nowhere, was it a pay phone? If a work phone, one would think most would know who was using it or likely to be using it.
 

I couldn't find any missing child that would match the name that was given by the caller but I did find these two that could be possibilities. The last one is a little off on the age estimate but the name caught my attention. The top one was abducted as a newborn and from what I have studied most newborn abductions are done by people who are trying to pass a child off as there own. So I just thought what if this child was not recognized by anyone because he was abducted as a newborn and had been living with his abductor under the radar so to speak.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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It is probably nothing but in one of the first posts it says the jeans are a size 3. Are these like junior girls jeans because the child sounds tall enough and old enough not to be wearing a toddler 3... It's no big deal just something I noted.
Before we lost our site data, I had posted about his clothes. Either they have some sizes wrong, or this child was wearing clothes that did not fit him.

If his height and weight estimations are accurate (and it's possible they are not), he would be the height and weight of an average 7 year old boy.

Size THREE jeans? This is what confuses me the most. Like you said, it does not fit. It has to be wrong. Size 3 typically fits a 3 year old. An "average" 7 year old boy, or an average 4'0"/50 pound boy, is going to wear about size 7 in jeans.

Similar with the boots. Size 11 is average for a 4-5 year old. An "average" 7 year old boy would be out of child sizes into about a 1. (Yes, it's possible he just had small feet, but combined everything else, it's weird.)


Just confusing. Even forgetting the ages. We have a child who is approximately 4'0" and 50 pounds, wearing pants for someone about 3'0" and 35 pounds.
And shoes that would also be too small for someone of that stature.
And a youth XL shirt (which is typically about the same as an adult small shirt, which would be HUGE on a child of this stature).


Either the clothing sizes were recorded wrong, or somebody is WAY off is the estimations of this child's size.
 

GrandmaBear

‘We Have Nothing to Fear Except Fear Itself'
Before we lost our site data, I had posted about his clothes. Either they have some sizes wrong, or this child was wearing clothes that did not fit him.

If his height and weight estimations are accurate (and it's possible they are not), he would be the height and weight of an average 7 year old boy.

Size THREE jeans? This is what confuses me the most. Like you said, it does not fit. It has to be wrong. Size 3 typically fits a 3 year old. An "average" 7 year old boy, or an average 4'0"/50 pound boy, is going to wear about size 7 in jeans.

Similar with the boots. Size 11 is average for a 4-5 year old. An "average" 7 year old boy would be out of child sizes into about a 1. (Yes, it's possible he just had small feet, but combined everything else, it's weird.)


Just confusing. Even forgetting the ages. We have a child who is approximately 4'0" and 50 pounds, wearing pants for someone about 3'0" and 35 pounds.
And shoes that would also be too small for someone of that stature.
And a youth XL shirt (which is typically about the same as an adult small shirt, which would be HUGE on a child of this stature).


Either the clothing sizes were recorded wrong, or somebody is WAY off is the estimations of this child's size.

So it isn't just me? I didn't want to point it out too much because honestly, hand me downs, garage sales, etc., I honestly thought it might be the size 3 jean a slim junior girl size and even if girls, jeans can be jeans, and boy to girl you may provide like as a hand me down to the next child, but we know the zipper, buttons, etc. are generally opposite. I figured it was a misprint or mistake. I never really thought about the shoe size but did note these were quality boots and apparently just out in the Georgia area and did it say set to go nationwide shortly after? The shirt too is odd sized? Etc.? I didn't pay as much attention to that, the size 3 jeans are what caught me. I mean to my knowledge there is no size 3 in boys except a toddler size.

Now on the other hand, if it was just the jeans, other countries size different than we do...
 

GrandmaBear

‘We Have Nothing to Fear Except Fear Itself'
I would also add that it crossed my mind that they were red. Although I guess one could possibly find such a color for boys, again it made me think of girl's jeans and that again took me to junior's sizes. While it does put his age range at 4 to 8, as you said, his estimated weight, etc. does not lead me to believe he would fit in a 3 Toddler, even if four years old.

I guess too if a child is in ill fitting clothing, it does not mean they were not well taken care of, poverty for instance does not always mean lack of care or love. It is food for thought though and this child was found dead.

The only other thing I can think of is if the child had some condition or perhaps was wheelchair bound and had smaller legs or the legs were atrophied but then that wouldn't probably match up with the foot and shoe size... I also would think in that case, they would be able to tell and the detail would be shared as it would help identify him so I kind of rule that one out...
 

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