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1985 Anne Arundel County Cold Case Solved With New Technology

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) -- Up until now, Roger Kelso's family had been waiting on answers about what happened to him nearly 30 years ago.

With the help of breakthrough technology, a lot of patience and good-old-fashioned police work, they now have some answers.

Since 2016, Anne Arundel County Police has worked with the FBI to determine Roger Hern Kelso was murdered in 1963. But his body wasn't found until 1985, by construction crews in a metal trash can.

Detectives believe he was killed less than a year after telling his family he was going away for a while.

"When he left, he said goodbye to me, I saw him leave, he had books under his arm," Kelso's sister Mary Ellen Huffman said. "He was hopeful, he was peaceful, and out of respect for him I didn't ask him details."

They also found a number of coins in the bottom of the trash can, the newest one dated 1963.

On April 23, 1985, construction workers clearing the site of Marley Station Mall found a metal trashcan containing human remains.

An autopsy ruled the victim's death was a homicide caused by severe upper body trauma.

Detectives are hopeful the attached pictures could lead to additional witnesses in the case.

Credit: Anne Arundel County Police
Credit: Anne Arundel County Police
Credit: Anne Arundel County Police
Credit: Anne Arundel County Police

Huffman said the family held out hope for a long time they'd find Roger or even answers. When they finally got them, the cycle of grief started again.

"I said, 'You found him?' I was astonished, I mean how?" she said.

Christmas came right on time. Last December, Parabon NanoLabs contacted Detective Regina Collier with a match for their victim. The lab used genetic genealogy to identify Kelso.

"I was relieved. Yes, there was initial grief to think that it wasn't a natural death, but just to know we will have a body and we know the answer," Huffman said.

The surviving family members were notified and interviewed by detectives and the FBI on June 5, spanning from Washington State, Oregon, Arizona, West Virginia and Maryland.

Kelso was one of ten siblings and attended Glen Burnie High School, graduating in 1961. He was the president of the art club in 1959 and 1960.

His mother died five years ago, before getting answers about her son but the family looks forward to honoring Kelso's life with a memorial service.

Detectives are still investigating Roger's life and exactly how he died, but for now, his family says they are grateful for this huge step forward.

"Had this happened some years ago without the use of DNA and without the use of family ancestry, we would have never known the answer," Huffman said.

The Anne Arundel County Police Department has a tip line set up. There is still a $10,000 reward being offered for more information on Roger Kelso's murder.

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