Watch CBS News

Skeleton found on side of Route 195 in Fairhaven 38 years ago identified as Keith Olson

Skeleton found on side of Route 195 in Fairhaven 38 years ago identified as Keith Olson
Skeleton found on side of Route 195 in Fairhaven 38 years ago identified as Keith Olson 00:33

FAIRHAVEN - It took 38 years, but investigators have finally identified a man who was murdered and left on the side of a Massachusetts highway.

How the investigation started

Back on April 8, 1985, a driver stopped in the breakdown lane of Interstate 195 west in Fairhaven. In the brush nearby, there was a human skeleton.

For years, the man's identity was a mystery. Police tried to match dental records, they made a facial reconstruction of the skull, did a forensic analysis and looked to the media for help. The FBI lab in Washington examined the remains and they believed he had been killed a few years before the body was found.

Genetic profile and family tree

The Bristol County District Attorney's Office took a fresh look at the case recently as part of its' "Unidentified Bodies Project." Using DNA from the skeleton, they developed a genetic profile with the FBI and a private lab in Texas. They compared the man's profile with thousands of other DNA profiles and created a family tree for him.

He was finally identified in 2023 as Keith Olson of Cranston, Rhode Island. He had not been seen alive since April 15, 1981 - nearly four years before his body was found. Olson was 27 years old when he disappeared.

Keith Olson Bristol County District Attorney's Office

Who killed Keith Olson?

Now investigators are trying to figure out who killed him. They said Olson had been dating a woman and that there had been "friction" between one of her old boyfriends and Olson. That man was later identified as John Broccoli of North Providence.

"A witness to Olson's disappearance described that two men escorted Olson from his Cranston apartment," the D.A.'s Office said in a statement Tuesday. "On the same day that Olson was last seen, Broccoli made cryptic statements to the woman who had been dating Olson. These statements suggested Broccoli's possible involvement in this matter."

Broccoli was also known as Michael Corleone, the same name as the fictional character from "The Godfather," according to authorities. Broccoli died in 2019 at the age of 63.

The district attorney said the case "shows the need for better coordination, not only between counties but between states." So they're asking anyone with a missing relative to call police and provide a DNA sample that can be compared to thousands of bodies that are still identified.

Anyone who might have information in the Olson case is urged to call Massachusetts State Police Det. Lt. AnnMarie Robertson at (855) 627-6583.

For more information about missing persons cases in Bristol County, visit the district attorney's website.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.