13% of $6,000 goal
This young boy's case is very close to our hearts. It was selected by the families and advisors of the Dean and Tina Linn Clouse Memorial Fund for a grant for several reasons of close proximity to their loved ones. And it has inspired a three case collaboration with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.
Found murdered in 1972 near Indian Lake Road, west of Daytona Beach, Florida, this boy would have been born about the same year that Dean Clouse was born. He was discovered just a few miles from New Smyrna Beach, where Dean and Tina both grew up in the 1970's.
This Volusia County John Doe, "Johnny" to our team, has been a puzzle for decades. The condition of his body when it was found after a period of time in a marshy area made it hard to determine much. He was dressed in mismatched men's clothing and was assumed to be an adult in his 20s. All the newspaper articles at the time called him a "man."
Forensic reconstruction portraits by Judy Reimer and VCSO photo of the shirt he was found in.
When he was exhumed in 2013, a mistake that delayed the case decades of lead time was discovered when it was determined that he was, in fact, between 11 and 13 years old.
His DNA is just as mystifying. After 5 failed attempts to extract his DNA from bones, teeth, and hair there is a determined group of people that simply will not give up on him. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, FHD Forensics, and our lab allies at Astrea Forensics are willing to go the extra mile to get his DNA profile.
"FHD Forensics' enthusiasm and determination to bring light to this forgotten case by employing untried methods is refreshing," said Detective William Weaver, Volusia Sheriff’s Office. "And Genealogy For Justice's willingness to devote resources is equally admirable."
A lab manager that has worked on his case since 2021 looks at his samples every time she opens her storage cabinet and has never forgotten him.
We will be employing a brute force approach to creating usable DNA. It may take months to do many extractions to get enough DNA to combine into a single extract complete enough to sequence.
This approach will be extremely time consuming and would be virtually unaffordable if not for Astrea’s commitment to help ensure that he is identified.
Please help us raise the funding to send him home to his family. The fact that he was assumed to be an adult for decades means that someone out there has been missing a child.
Our project estimate is generous because we don't know how many extractions it will require to finally gain usable DNA.
Dean Clouse's brother, Venanzio "Chris" Casasanta helped launch the campaign with a donation in honor of Dean's birthday on June 7. He would have been 64 years old.
"My donation was done with love and understanding for other victims that have unfortunately suffered in the same way our family suffered. I also did it to honor my brother and Tina. I pray that others will join me so that we may use the memorial fund to help other families...that at least through our tragedy we might find a way to be of service," explained Chris.
In addition to Johnny's case, the identifications of 1980 and 1982 Volusia County Does are also a part of the project.