Harry Johnsen 1996

Remains found near village ID'd as man reported missing in 1996

By CASEY GROVE, casey.grove@adn.com, Published: March 30th, 2011

Human remains discovered in Northwest Alaska in 2007 have been identified, according to the Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers think Harry Johnson, 30 years old at the time, was camping by himself near where the Kelly River pours into the Noatak River. Johnson was reported missing in 1996, and searchers from Kotzebue failed to find him, troopers said.

It wasn't until September 2007 that two doctors, looking for a campsite while on a hunting trip, discovered the man's remains, said trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters. The remains, found within walking distance of the river, had been damaged by weather, decomposition and animals, she said.

Lab technicians at the University of Texas Health Center in El Paso matched mitochondrial DNA from a leg bone to that of a relative in Alaska, Peters said.

The Alaska Bureau of Investigation's Major Crimes Unit received confirmation Wednesday that the remains were in fact Johnson, the missing man.

No foul play is suspected in Johnson's death, and his next of kin were notified after the positive identification, troopers said.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.