Michigan Cold Case: Police ID Man Found in Saginaw River Nearly 50 Years Ago
The identity of a murder victim whose body was found in the Saginaw River nearly five decades ago has been determined.
Cold Case From 1973
The case began when a man's body was found floating in the Saginaw River in Zilwaukee Township on March 13, 1973.
According to Detroit's WDIV-TV, an autopsy showed that the man had been shot seven times. He also had blunt-force trauma to the back of his head which led authorities to believe that he had been knocked down, shot, and left for dead in the river.
Reports indicate that his body was discovered six weeks later by a fisherman.
DNA technology was not yet available and authorities were unable to identify the man using his fingerprints. He was eventually buried and determined to be a John Doe.
Man's Body Identified Five Decades Later
Nearly 50 years after the man's body was discovered, the case was re-opened by the Michigan State Police in 2020. His body was exhumed and DNA samples were sent to the Michigan State University Anthropology unit for testing.
The following year, samples were submitted to Astrea Forensics for forensic genetic genealogy and in 2022, a familial match was obtained thanks to the DNA Doe Project.
Man Had Roots in Texas and Flint
The DNA match led authorities to a family in Beeville, Texas. In December 2022, the man was positively identified last Daniel Garza-Gonzales.
The TV station reports that Gonzales left Fort Worth, Texas to work in Flint when he was 29 years old.
“Knowing his identity, even nearly 50 years later, is a critically important new lead in this case, and investigators hope it will help them determine who was responsible for his death. Garza-Gonzalez’s remains will be reinterred by his family in Texas,” a spokesman for the Michigan State Police said.