MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Authorities in Isanti County say remains found nearly two decades ago have been identified as belonging to a man who was missing since the 1970s.

New DNA profiling technology used by a lab in Texas led to a breakthrough in identifying the body of Donald Rindahl, the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office said.

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The remains were found in August 2003 near Highway 47 and County Road 5 in Bradford Township during an excavation project. Officials at the time believed they belonged to a white male in his 20s, and that they had been buried for anywhere from three to 28 years.

The body went unidentified for years, and in 2019 the sheriff’s office sought the help of Barbara Rae-Venter, who helped solve the Golden State Killer case. However, they were unable to produce a viable DNA sample for her to analyze.

In 2021, Rae-Venter sent the sheriff’s office to a Texas lab called Othram, which identified the remains of Sherri Ann Jarvis, a Stillwater teen who was killed in Texas and whose remains were found in 1980. Othram identified her in November 2021.

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Othram built a DNA profile in October and Rae-Venter analyzed it, finding a distant relative who matched the remains. Isanti County Chief Deputy Lisa Lovering found two siblings, one of whom said their brother, Rindahl, had been missing since 1970. The sibling said the FBI was investigating Rindahl “due some involvement with drugs” before his disappearance.

(credit: Isanti County Sheriff’s Office)

The siblings provided DNA samples, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension positively identified the remains as Rindahl’s.

The sheriff’s office believes Rindahl’s death was a homicide, though it is officially being classified as undetermined. Authorities believe he was buried in late 1970 or early 1971 when he was 22 years old.

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The sheriff’s office also said “there may still be people alive today who know what happened to Donald in 1970.” Anyone with information about Rindahl’s disappearance or death is asked to contact the sheriff’s office or Crime Stoppers.