The remains of a White Bear Lake man missing since 1982 have been identified in Wisconsin.

Kraig King's decomposed remains were identified by the Barron County Sheriff’s Department with the assistance of the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation and DNA Doe Project.

On Sept. 21, 1982, loggers found a pile of clothes in the woods on private land about 100 yards from the tree line near Highway 25 about 4 miles north of Ridgeland, Barron County, according to a Jan. 7 press release from the sheriff's department. Upon closer inspection, they discovered it was actually badly decomposed human remains. 

After conducting an autopsy, a pathologist reported the deceased was a white male, between 18 and 22 years old, weighing 180 to 195 pounds and was between 5 feet, 8 inches and 5 feet, 9 inches tall. The subject had brown hair and a husky build. It is estimated time of death was April to May 1982 and the manner of death was homicide. King had been stabbed in the chest. 

The 1979 White Bear Lake High School grad suffered from mental illness, said his parents Judy and Paul King. They don't know how or why their son was in western Wisconsin, but they knew he didn't have a car and he was carrying a couple thousand dollars when he was last seen. 

"Kraig was so well liked," said his father Paul, a retired physical education teacher in the district. "He was a hockey and golf athlete and an excellent student. He was very personable. He must have talked to the wrong people." 

Learning the details of their son's death has been painful, say the Kings, but friends have gathered around the couple to offer comfort. They are longtime members of St. Mary of the Lake Church, where a memorial Mass will be held once the remains are released to the family. 

The Barron County Sheriff’s Department is seeking the public’s help as the investigation of King’s homicide continues. Anyone with information on why the victim would have been in Barron County in 1982, or any knowledge of this case, should contact the Barron County Sheriff’s Department at 715-537-3106.

The DNA Doe Project, which was key to the identification, is a nonprofit volunteer organization that uses forensic genealogy to identify unidentified deceased persons. The Kings said a niece had her genealogy tested and agreed to have results added to a database. A close DNA match to the John Doe remains in Wisconsin alerted the organization to the family. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said the DNA Doe Project also wanted to acknowledge the assistance of DNA Solutions, Hudson Alpha Discovery, Justin Loe – Full Genomes Corporation, Dr. Greg Magoon – Aerodyne Research Corporation, and GEDmatch.


Debra Neutkens and Sara Marie Moore

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