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Medical Examiner and AZ Public Safety Identify 'John Doe'

Medical Examiner’s Office and Department of Public Safety Identify John Bryan Moore

On June 18, 1987 two men were driving across Arizona on their way to California when the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed. The driver was a young male who had hitched a ride. During the initial investigation a duffel bag was impounded by Arizona Department of Public Safety. The duffel had the name “Brian Moore” with a Florida address attached to it. Attempts at identification were futile and the young man was buried at Tempe Buttes Cemetery as a John Doe (87-1337).

25 years later, he has been definitely identified as John Bryan Moore, who went missing from California in January, 1987. He traveled across the country to Florida, making contact with his sister when he was in Louisiana. He was killed in June 1987 while making his way home. He had been reported missing in Riverside, CA six months prior to the death of John Doe (87-1337).

He was identified by the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner as part of an National Institute of Justice grant administered through the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission (“Identify the Missing”). The OME Unidentified Team began compiling Doe cases from 1970 through the present to determine what follow-up needed to be completed. John Doe 87-1337 was in the first group reviewed.

In December 2010, former Arizona Department of Public Safety Det. Steve Leon was asked to provide the DPS Department Report (DR), photographs and the property impounded as part of the 1987 investigation. Det. Leon produced the department report along with an offer to assist the OME investigation into the identification of the decedent.

On Feb. 1, 2011, John Doe 87-1337 was exhumed as part of the NIJ grant. Complete digital dental radiographs and anthropology examination were undertaken. Samples of bone and teeth were collected and all of the property in the casket was photographed. The analysis determined that the decedent was a White/Hispanic Male, 15-17 years old and approximately 5’10” tall. The original autopsy report showed that he had very short dark hair and a floral tattoo on his right chest. The DNA samples were submitted to Criminalist Dan Merena at the DPS DNA laboratory. A postmortem sketch was also completed.

From 2011 through Aug. 2012, John Doe was profiled in numerous media stories, on the OME Unidentified website and through appeals to various law enforcement agencies in Arizona, California and Florida. Dets. Leon and Jeff Brown traveled to California and Florida, interviewing agencies, potential next of kin and witnesses in an effort to gather more information about the young man in the car. Ultimately, 37 different agencies were contacted during the investigation.

In Aug. 2012, detectives made contact with NamUs, an organization dedicated to missing and deceased persons across the United States. Two individuals (Dustin Driscoll and B.J. Spamer) from NamUs were able to perform an off-line search of juveniles who had been purged from the system. In the course of the search, they isolated over 15,000 individuals who matched the age, ancestry and sex of the John Doe. One of those individuals was a young man named John Bryan Moore who was reported missing in Riverside, CA 6 months prior to the death of John Doe 87-1337.

Det. Leon was confident that he had located the missing person who matched the John Doe. He began to make contact with the family of John Doe and through photographs, the postmortem sketch, descriptions of the personal effects in the casket and the tattoo, they asserted that the John Doe was their missing person. DNA samples obtained from Dad, Mom and Sister of the decedent and the samples taken during the exhumation were consistent. John Doe 87-1337 is John Bryan Moore.

John went missing from California in January 1987. He traveled across the country to Florida, making last contact with his sister when he was in Louisiana. He was killed in June 1987 while making his way home.

Cari Gerchick
Communications Director
Maricopa County
Cell: 602-790-8621

Bart Graves, Media Relations Manager
CORE Unit: Public Relations & Creative Services
Arizona Department of Public Safety
2102 W. Encanto Blvd | Phoenix, Arizona 85009
Office: (602) 223-2161 | Mobile: (602) 568-9976 |


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