Medical examiner identifies body of man found 20 years ago in Ridgefield

James Orin Johnson senior
James Orin Johnson senior(Family)
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 10:27 AM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RIDGEFIELD, Wash. (KPTV) - The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed the identity of a man body found 20 years ago.

The body of James Orin Johnson Sr. was found in Ridgefield on January 13, 2002. He was 32 when he died.

The medical examiner’s office submitted a DNA sample from the remains to a forensic DNA laboratory. The forensic genealogies found an ancestral link between the body’s DNA and two sisters born in Oregon in the 1800s, and some distant relatives.

SEE ALSO: 26-year-old woman killed in Wallace Park shooting identified

An investigator and the medical examiner’s office spend months contacting potential family members about a potential missing relative. In May, they tracked down Johnson’s family who was eager to help the investigation and confirm Johnson’s identity.

Johnson’s family did not know what happened to him after he disappeared. His former wife, Candy Hallanger, hired a private investigator in 2003 to search for Johnson but has not heard anything for 20 years.

James Orin Johnson sr. and wife
James Orin Johnson sr. and wife(Family)

Johnson’s son submitted his DNA and forensic genealogists found that the two DNA samples matched the parent/child relationship.

On Sept. 17, the investigator met with Johnson’s family including his son Jaccob and former wife Candy – to walk through the investigation that led to Johnson’s identification.

“This great work by our team helped to provide a family with answers they had been waiting 20 years to receive,” said Clark County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Martha Burt. “The Medical Examiner’s Office is committed to finding the names of all unidentified decedents in Clark County.”

SEE ALSO: Team of Oregon divers are solving cold cases across the nation

Authorities did not release any details on how Johnson died or if the investigation into his death is still ongoing.