Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)

Human remains found off U.S. coast identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Jim (James) Neufeld was last seen leaving his Penticton home on Jan. 21, 2009.

Nearly 12 years later, U.S. officials in Washington State have now identified human remains found on the coast of San Juan County as belonging to Neufeld.

Neufeld was believed to be travelling in his green 1997 Plymouth Voyager passenger van, which was located under the Alexandria Bridge near the Fraser River on Feb. 3, 2009, by Hope RCMP. His vehicle was examined by RCMP forensic specialists at the time.

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On May 23, 2009, the remains of a deceased man were pulled from the waters of the Salish Sea off of Parker Reef, about one-half mile north of Orcas Island in San Juan County.

The remains were taken in for anthropological and forensic studies but went unidentified, despite efforts by U.S. officials to trace a number on a metal plate to hospitals, pull a DNA profile from the deceased, and develop and sketch what he might have looked like.

However, a renewed attempt to establish a DNA profile in September 2020 proved to be successful.

The B.C. Coroners Service Special Identifications Unit in partnership with the Snohomish County medical examiner’s office in Washington, were able positively identify the remains as belonging to Neufeld.

“At first I was confident we would find his identity and family right away,” said San Juan country coroner Randall Gaylord. But when the case went cold coroners grew frustrated.

Jane Jorgensen of the Snohomish County medical examiner’s office was able to provide the fresh look that was ultimately successful

B.C. RCMP Southeast District Supt. Ray Carfantan said this case may bring hope to other families who have a missing loved one.

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jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

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