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CBS3 Mysteries: Veteran Doe Helps Delaware County ID Man Found In Ridley Township Creek In 1978

RIDLEY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) -- This week, CBS3 Mysteries looks into the case of Kevin Carroll. The 18-year-old service member never made it home to Oregon. Instead, his body was found in a Delaware County creek back in 1978.

For decades, investigators had no idea what his name was until a North Jersey woman came forward.

December 1978. The body of a young man was pulled from this Ridley Township creek near Bullens Lane and Valley Road. Back then, the place was somewhat residential, but the busy Blue Route nearby was still 14 years away from even opening.

"In 1978, somebody finds his body. We don't know if he was killed at that location or he was brought there. He had no identification on him," Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said.

Enter Amelia Pearn from rural North Jersey. She is a member of the Veteran Doe organization, a group that tracks and attempts to identify missing service member cases.

Her interest in the Kevin Carroll case was sparked five years ago as she scrolled through a Justice Department website for missing people. Carroll's entry seemed hopeless and forgotten.

"They didn't have a photo. He was 18 years old," Pearn said. "I had never seen his information shared on any social media and so I was annoyed. Nobody is paying attention to this case right now as far as social media is concerned. Just armchair sleuths like me. And so I put him on the website. I'm like, OK,  I'll start sharing him around every year."

Once again this past Christmas, Carroll's anniversary slipped by, but Pearn was on the case.

She discovered Carroll, a missing service member from Oregon, had a seizure disorder.

Pearn focused on major transportation hubs thinking he may have been the victim of an accident. That human remains case from the creek in Ridley from 1978 not being far from Philadelphia International Airport caught her attention.

Just three months ago, she spent three days trying to connect the dots.

"There were some medical records, I had his blood type," Pearn said. "I know he had an appendectomy. Ridley Township had done such a good job with their composite and their information. Everything looked too right."

Carroll's body had not been in the creek all that long. It was cold out, it was December, and the remains were well preserved.

Investigators today now credit the good work of detectives all those years ago of identifying and memorializing key details found on the body.

Pearn had a match.

That body was this man, the 18-year-old who up until four years ago didn't even have a photo accompanying his file.

"Through the magic of her sleuthery, she was able to connect those two together. Ridley police did a fantastic job. They were able to go to the Air Force, get his fingerprint records from the 1970s, get an FBI expert to match those two together," Stollsteimer said.

Now, what happened to Carroll?

"The manner of his death and whether or not we can ever make a criminal case out of that is sort of a separate question," Stollsteimer said.

Pearn is incredibly humble.

"Every once in a while, lightning strikes and I'm right. I was on to something there,'" she said.

If you have information, call Ridley Township Police at 610-532-4000.

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