"Forrest" is a male whose skeletal remains were discovered between newly-planted trees at a rest area off Interstate 10 in Columbia County, Florida in 1978. 

Case

On November 24th, 1978 a South Florida man was trying to locate a deer he had hit with his truck near a rest area off Interstate 10 West in Columbia County around noon when he stumbled upon the bleached skeletal remains of a male. The remains were near freshly-planted pines that were growing on the property of the rest area. At the time, the rest area, which lies near the Suwanee County line, was fairly new. The bones had been covered in roughly three inches of dirt and old pine needles. 

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Columbia County Sheriffs Office investigated the scene and combed for additional bones and clues that could have led to an identification on the John Doe, but were unsuccessful at finding all of his remains. 

The remains were found near a piece of denim that may or may not be related to the victim. 

Characteristics

There was no intact clothing recovered, although there were some features of the remains, such as a healed broken nose that may have bent to the left, a healed broken left foot that may have made him walk with a limp; and severe arthritis in the left hip that may have been the result of a herniated disc.

The decedent's dental records displayed several unique features:

  • The decedent had an overbite
  • He had amalgam fillings on 7 teeth (teeth #3, #4, #12, #13, #14, #18 and #31)
  • He had a porcelain filling on tooth #8
  • He had class 2-3 periodontal disease in all teeth present
  • His lower jaw had atrophied some in the molar area.

​Some of his limbs, along with one or both of his hands, were never recovered.

Investigation

The case was investigated by the Columbia County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) for a number of years until it was shelved for a long period of time. In 1996, Robert Johnson, a deputy with the CCSO, discovered a box filled with bones and was able to connect the bones to the case in 1978. Using the techniques available to him at the time, he consulted with forensic artists with the FBI and Anne Coy of the Seminole County Sheriffs Office to do a sketch composite and a clay bust composite of the John Doe. After the bust was completed, Coy nicknamed the John Doe "Forrest." Additionally, Deputy Johnson created an IdentiKit sketch of the John Doe.

Recent developments

After reopening Forrest's case, Deputy Johnson had mitochondrial DNA extracted from the bones, in case a match should come forward. Forrest was uploaded to NamUs in 2008 by Florida's District 4 Medical Examiner's Office. 

In 2019 Anthony Redgrave, formerly of the DNA Doe Project and current co-administrator of the Trans Doe Task Force updated the facial reconstruction of Forrest after over twenty years of inactivity in the investigation. This came after a few years of email exchanges between the CCSO and Jason Futch, an amateur sleuth who researched John and Jane Doe cases in the area. Futch and Redgrave were able to convince investigators with the CCSO to approve this new facial approximation with the hope that it could generate new leads in the case. 

In May 2019, the CCSO released a statement regarding the case on Facebook; this statement was accompanied by Redgrave's reconstruction of the decedent's face. The CCSO released new information surrounding the discovery and also informed the public that he had not met with foul play as previously indicated. 

Rule-outs

As of February 29, 2020, there are eight missing person exclusions on NamUs. 

  • Roland Martin Welsch, Jr., Texas
  • Allan Kaplan, Florida
  • Bobby Clyatt, Florida
  • Daniel Goldman, Florida
  • Kenneth Gautier, Florida
  • Ricky Olsen, Florida
  • Paul Egan, Florida
  • John Ballenger, Florida

Gallery

Sources

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