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DNA used to identify man found dead in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park

PIX Now -- Monday morning headlines from KPIX newsroom
PIX Now -- Monday morning headlines from KPIX newsroom 11:34

SAN FRANCISCO -- Using the latest DNA tracking technology, San Francisco police investigators have been able to identify the body of a man found dead in 2021 in Golden Gate Park.

Investigators said a landscaper clearing ground cover discovered Kurt Jerome Aken's body close to a trail on the southeast side of Metson Lake in the park.

Aken's body was lying on a blanket and sleeping bag, having died weeks before being found. There was no evidence of trauma on the body.

When detectives were unable to identify Aken, his remains were given a John Doe designation.

Investigators immediately reached out to the DNA Doe Project for help. Right away, the DNA Doe project team had an important clue - a match in the range of a first cousin that was on his maternal side. 

From this, the DNA Doe project team was able to identify the specific branch of his family tree, and determined he was one of six children. Only two of the siblings were male, and a proof of life study ruled out  Aken's brother. 

"This case was unusual in two important ways - first, that the agency brought the DNA Doe Project in to help so soon after the John Doe's remains were discovered," said team leader Rhonda Kevorkian. "And second, that we had a DNA match from such a close relative. These two factors allowed us to confidently identify Mr Aken quickly."

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