DNA sought to close 1926 missing-person case

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In this image provided by the Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database shows an undated photo of Marvin Clark. Clark is the oldest missing persons case in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) database. He was reported missing in November, 1926. NamUs is looking into the possibility that remains found in 1986 near US 30 may be those of Marvin Clark. (AP Photo/Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System)

In this image provided by the Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database shows an undated photo of Marvin Clark. Clark is the oldest missing persons case in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) database. He was reported missing in November, 1926. NamUs is looking into the possibility that remains found in 1986 near US 30 may be those of Marvin Clark. (AP Photo/Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System)

In this image provided by the Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database shows an undated photo of Marvin Clark. Clark is the oldest missing persons case in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) database. He was reported missing in November, 1926. NamUs is looking into the possibility that remains found in 1986 near US 30 may be those of Marvin Clark. (AP Photo/Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System)

In this image provided by the Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database shows an undated photo of Marvin Clark and an unidentified woman. Clark is the oldest missing persons case in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) database. He was reported missing in November, 1926. NamUs is looking into the possibility that remains found in 1986 near US 30 may be those of Marvin Clark. (AP Photo/Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System)

In this image provided by the Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database shows a historical photo of Marvin Clark’s home in Tigard, Oregon. Clark is the oldest missing persons case in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) database. He was reported missing in November, 1926. NamUs is looking into the possibility that remains found in 1986 near US 30 may be those of Marvin Clark. (AP Photo/Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System)

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Marvin A. Clark vanished during a short trip to Portland on Halloween weekend 1926, but the search to find out what happened to him may finally be drawing to a close nearly 90 years later.

Clark’s disappearance is one of the oldest active missing-person cases in the nation, according to a federally funded database of missing persons. Investigators know Clark is not alive — he’d be more than 160 years old — but they believe they have his remains.

Now, they need DNA samples from Clark’s hard-to-find descendants to close the case.

Despite the age of the remains, investigators were able to get a good DNA profile, said Dr. Nici Vance of the Oregon state medical examiner’s office. Volunteer genealogists then found three great-great-grandchildren on the paternal side.

The results were encouraging, but not definitive, Vance said.

Now, “they’re looking for a maternal link, someone on his mother’s side, and following that lineage to shore it up and make the statistics a little better,” she said. “There’s an association there, but it’s not strong at this point.”

Vance entered Clark’s name into the database of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, which provides a central repository of information about missing persons and unidentified decedent records. The free online system can be searched at findthemissing.org.

“There might have been an item of jewelry that was found with that person that could trigger a memory of a family member,” she said.

The database, funded by the National Institute of Justice, consists of nearly 10,000 cases. Among the oldest active ones are cases involving a farmer in his 30s who went missing in Oklahoma in 1902, a 2-year-old who disappeared in 1930 in Chicago and a 22-year-old hiker who vanished in Rocky Mountain National Park in 1933.

As might be expected in Clark’s case, which dates back to just before the Great Depression, some facts are sketchy and conflicting. According to the database, he was in his early 60s when he vanished while taking a stagecoach ride to see his Portland doctor in 1920.

But contemporaneous articles from The Oregonian newspaper show Clark was 75 and went missing on a bus trip in 1926. The old clippings say the “well-known” Tigard, Ore., resident left home on Saturday, Oct. 30, to visit his daughter, Mrs. Sidney McDougall, in Portland.

A frantic search began two days later when Clark’s wife called McDougall and learned he never completed the trip that’s about 10 miles.

McDougall, an article says, had not been expecting a visit from her father because he returned to Tigard from her home only a few days before his disappearance. The newspaper said Clark had been traced to a terminal in downtown Portland, near McDougall’s place.

McDougall offered a $100 reward — more than $1,300 in today’s money — for information about his whereabouts, but nothing turned up. Police across the Pacific Northwest were asked to be on the lookout for Clark, who had partial paralysis on the right side, a “halting gait” and couldn’t use his right arm.

Then, on May 10, 1986, loggers clear-cutting an isolated section of Portland discovered the remains of a man who had been dead for at least a half-century.

Near the skeleton, investigators found an 1888 V nickel, a 1919 penny, a pocket watch, leather shoes, wire-rimmed glasses, a Fraternal Order of Eagles pocket knife and four tokens with the inscription “D&P.” A historian told The Oregonian in 1986 that those where likely tavern tokens, which were awarded in card games and could be used to buy food or alcohol.

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