The NamUS DNA Database Identifies a Man 36 years After He Disappeared
Filed under Testing on 5/2/2011 by Author: .

On October 3, 1974, San Francisco resident James Berkeley Norris II, age 24, said good bye to his mother and left for a one week's vacation to Florida. James sent a postcard from a small town in Florida, Inglis, on October 4th. That was the last news his family heard from him.

In the 1990's one of his sisters, Rosemary Norris Southward, discovered the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) and similar websites and created a MySpace page with details about James and his Florida trip along with a copy of the postcard. On July 27, 2004, Mrs. Norris and her five remaining children, David, Michael, Theresa, Kathie and Rosemary, went to the Fairfield Police Department to give DNA samples.

In 2009, a team at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in Tallahassee started looking at cold cases to see if new technology might help solve old murders. Remains of an unidentified person found in Dixie County on April 16, 1976, were sent to the University of North Texas, where scientists extracted DNA in difficult cases. About a year later, officials there notified the FDLE that they had captured DNA.

To help in the identification, a FDLE agent accessed NamUs. He knew he was looking for a male in his mid 20s, approximately 6 feet, who had been dead about two years when his body was discovered in 1976.  He soon discovered the information Rosemary had posted on her brother. The website indicated that DNA samples were available in California. Kennedy arranged to have the samples sent to the lab in Texas for comparison.

In late 2010, a Fairfield police officer visited Rosemary to discuss the case. The officer told her that the skeletal remains discovered in 1976 had been identified as her brother's. The family went to recover James' remains in April 2011.  On April 22, 2011, James was laid to rest next to his mother.
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