GANGES TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A pair of mysteries spread across 13 years being solved thanks to the persistence of volunteers and investigators.
In 2014, Michigan State Police Troopers were called to a Lake Michigan beach in Ganges Township for partial human remains found in the sand. A jaw bone with 3 teeth washed up in July of that year was spotted by a jogger.
Researchers at Western Michigan University's Pathology Department attempted to identify the remains using DNA testing, but failed to find a match. Investigators marked the remains as unidentified, and put the case in the hands of Michigan State Police's Special Investigation Section.
The Section partnered with the DNA Doe Project, which sent DNA samples to the University of North Texas for further testing. Volunteers continued to work the case, until make a connection with the family of Ronald Wayne Jager.
Jager went missing on August 1, 2000 while fishing in Lake Michigan just out from White Lake in Muskegon County. The 59-year-old never returned, and was reported missing the next day.
On August 4, 2000, his boat was discovered in a marina in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The electric motor was still running, and two fishing lines were trailing in the water. Searches by the U.S. Coast Guard never found any evidence of the 59-year-old's whereabouts.
DNA from Jager's extended family matched with his remains, leading investigators to his missing person case.
“This case spent more time in the labs than it did to do the genealogy,” said DNA Doe Project Team Leader Kevin Lord, “I am so glad that we were able to assist the Michigan State Police in giving some answers to Ronald's family after this tragic incident.”
Jager's remains are being transferred to his family for a proper burial.