Remains of Dayton man found in 1997 in the Great Miami River identified

The remains of a man found in the Great Miami River north of Hamilton in 1997 have been identified using DNA.

The Butler County Coroner’s Office and the DNA Doe Project announced the identification of Larry Joe Porter today.

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Although the nature of the injuries were consistent with a person hit by a motor vehicle, the cause and manner of death are still undetermined, according to Butler County Coroner Dr. Lisa Mannix. Porter was 44 at the time of his death and a resident of Dayton.

On May 18, 1997, a body was found floating in the river south of the Horseshoe Dam in the canal. The body was a white male approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 130 to 150 pounds. The body was in a severe state of decomposition, according to the coroner’s office.

After attempts to identify the victim did not produce a name, the coroner’s office reached out to the DNA Doe Project in December 2018 for help with the case. University of North Texas Center for Human Identification sent remaining DNA extract to the sequencing lab HudsonAlpha Discovery. Data was uploaded to GEDmatch and later to Family Tree DNA, where the Doe Project team of volunteer genealogists discovered a close family member.

Within hours, the team worked out the connections between the DNA matches.

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Team member Megan Street recalls the moment the family tree was finally built out and led to Larry Porter, corroborated by other online clues that seemed to cease in 1996.

“Every hair on the back of my neck stood up,” Street said.

Margaret Press, CEO and co-founder of the Doe DNA Project, notes that this is the sixth Ohio Doe case that DDP has helped identify.

“I am proud of the work done by the coroner’s office and the continued commitment which led to resolution of this long-standing case. We are grateful to have identified Mr. Porter and reunited him with his family,” Mannix said.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding Porter’s death. If anyone has information about Porter they are asked to call detective Joe Ventre at 513-785-1239.

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