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20-year-old Bensalem cold case finally closed thanks to genealogy

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BENSALEM, Pa. (CBS) -- A 20-year-old cold case was finally closed in Bucks County thanks to the Bensalem Township Police Department and the Cold Case Initiative, police announced Monday.

The investigation began on Oct. 19, 2003, when officials said two fishermen found a man's body on the banks of the Delaware River, specifically in the drainage area of the Yellow Freight trucking company, which is located at 2627 State Road. 

Bensalem police said the man had no identification, nor did he match any description of missing persons in the nearby area. 

An autopsy revealed that the man had drowned and suffered no trauma to his body. During the autopsy, officials were able to get partial fingerprints from the man, but even those didn't match any prints in the national database at the time. 

Officials said the unidentified man was eventually buried in the Doylestown Cemetery, but Bensalem police would go on to compare him to many missing person reports for the next 19 years.

This was the case up until December 2022, when police received hair samples from an autopsy performed by the Bucks County Coroner's Office. Shortly thereafter, the hair samples were used to create a DNA profile in a private lab. 

The Cold Case Initiative, a nonproift that assists agencies with funding to solve cold cases, then joined the investigation to help fund a genetic genealogy search of public DNA databases with a genealogist.  

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The results of their genealogical investigation led them to Riverside, New Jersey, to speak with Edward Nece. 

Exactly 20 years after the two fishermen first discovered the body, on Oct. 19, 2023, investigators met with Nece -- who told them that his son, Edward Anthony Nece, hadn't been heard from in 20 years. 

Cold case investigators obtained a DNA sample from Nece that matched the DNA recovered from the unidentified man, now known as his son, Edward Anthony Nece. 

After a search that lasted two decades, the Nece family can finally have peace knowing what happened to their son. 

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