As a woman searched for her missing husband from New York state for eight years, authorities were trying for nearly the same amount of time to identify the remains of a man found in a railroad shed in Rosemount.
On Thursday, officials announced the mysteries were intertwined and solved — his name was James Everett and he was the man missing since 2013. The discovery came from DNA, work between various agencies, and perseverance.
“Our search to identify this man was important,” said Shawn Wilson, Hennepin County medical examiner’s office department administrator. “We all had questions, and we couldn’t begin to tell his story until we knew his name. But the story of James Raymond Everett is not ours to tell. It is his family’s, and they now have an ending.”
Everett was 48 when he died. His wife described him as intelligent, a computer geek, an accomplished cook, a self-taught acoustic guitar player and a sports fan.
“We, especially me, never gave up searching,” Patricia Everett said in a statement. “We were always on the lookout for him when out and about and frequently did a lot of online searching for any indication of activity or other clues as to his whereabouts. Although this has not been the expected nor desired outcome in our search for him, we are all grateful and blessed to at least have this opportunity for closure, which many are not as fortunate to get.”
LEFT FOR UNKNOWN REASONS IN 2013
James Everett was from Cohocton, N.Y., a village about 50 miles south of Rochester. He was scheduled to go on a work trip in September 2013. His wife said she later found out he didn’t go.
“For unknown reasons, he left home leaving keys in the mailbox and never returned,” according to Patricia Everett. “He was reported missing and was located a few weeks later at a rest stop by a Montana State Trooper so the missing person’s report was closed. He indicated to the trooper that he had problems at work and had quit and was just driving. I thought he may have reinvented his life and was living elsewhere, until I was visited by a police officer at my home inquiring about Jim.”
Meanwhile, in Rosemount, a railroad worker found human remains in a decommissioned railroad utility shed near 146th Street and Burnley Avenue West on Sept. 29, 2014.
Rosemount police believed the man was using the shed as a temporary shelter. They didn’t find identification or a wallet, but newspapers and receipts suggested he may have died in fall 2013.
The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office classified the man’s manner of death as undetermined because of the condition of his remains.
SEARCH TO ID REMAINS WENT NATIONWIDE
The medical examiner’s office, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Rosemount police issued alerts, asking for help to identify the man.
Police canvassed the area and investigated potential leads. The medical examiner’s office conducted forensic analysis of the man’s remains.
“Because the circumstances of this case were so unusual, we had to try many alternative ways of identifying the victim,” said Dr. Andrew Baker, Hennepin County medical examiner.
Officials entered information about the man into a national database for missing and unidentified people, and his DNA profile into another national system.
The FBI carried out facial reconstruction and the medical examiner’s office released photos of the rendering to the public and asked for tips.
BURIAL IN INVER GROVE HEIGHTS
The case grew cold after more than 570 leads were investigated.
About 20 people who never knew “John Doe” held a funeral for him in Inver Grove Heights in 2017. It was the second time in the modern history of Hennepin County medical’s office that unidentified remains were buried.
“We are incredibly grateful that he was not alone,” Patricia Everett said in Thursday’s statement.
Investigators began in 2019 to work with Parabon Nanolabs, which is headquartered in Virginia, to determine potential DNA matches. After hundreds of hours after investigation, a potential match was found to a man who’d been living in New York.
This year, the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office got DNA from Everett’s family and the official confirmation came in May.
Patricia Everett thanked community members who shared information and distant family members who submitted DNA for genealogy research. “Without them, he would never have been identified,” she said.
THE LIFE OF JIM EVERETT
Patricia Everett said she wants to people about Jim.
His “passion for technology flourished over the years and became his life’s work,” she said.
He was not only a cook, but also a baker. He had “significant experience” in short order and fine dining throughout Rochester, N.Y., according to his wife.
“He relished the challenge of creating dishes and baking cakes for weddings, baby showers, birthdays, and so on,” she said. “His creations were always elaborate and well-engineered.”
He also “had an amazing voice,” she said. At their wedding reception, he sang and played “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger for Patricia, and she said she can’t hear the song without thinking of him.
Jim Everett was a fan of the Denver Broncos football and Buffalo Sabres hockey teams, but he had a knack for remembering stats “for pretty much any player of any team, whether for football, hockey, baseball, basketball, World Cup soccer, and even golf,” Patricia said. “That skill made him a very valuable asset for any trivia team.”
Patricia Everett expressed appreciation for the work that went into identifying her husband.
“For those who are missing a loved one, I hope this story provides hope that your loved one may also be found,” she wrote.