(CBS/AP) SYDNEY - The headless remains of Ned Kelly, Australia's most storied criminal, have been identified, said officials on Thursday. The discovery ends a decades-long mystery surrounding the final resting place of a man now seen by many as a folk hero. Kelly, who led a gang of bank robbers in Australia's southern Victoria state in the 19th century, was hanged in 1880.
Although the fate of his corpse is unknown, it was long suspected his body lay alongside 33 other executed inmates in a mass grave at a prison.
Officials pinpointed the location of the grave site in 2008 and they later exhumed the bodies for analysis. A DNA sample from one of Kelly's descendants confirmed that one of the skeletons - which was missing most of its skull - was that of the notorious Ned, said Victoria Attorney General Robert Clark.
"To think a group of scientists could identify the body of a man who was executed more than 130 years ago, moved and buried in a haphazard fashion among 33 other prisoners, most of whom are not identified, is amazing," Clark said in a statement.
Kelly, whose father was an Irish convict, led a gang that robbed banks and killed policemen from 1878-80.
He is considered by many Australians to be something of a Robin Hood or Jesse James-like character. He fought the British colonial authorities and was a legend among the rural Irish underclass.