Police: Body found 41 years ago in Bethlehem finally identified; Familial DNA matches, police work credited

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BETHLEHEM – Police in Bethlehem announced Thursday that they have finally identified a man whose decomposed remains were found nearly 41 years ago near a town park.

Authorities credited efforts to get a sample of the deceased man’s DNA, then getting it compared to a familial DNA database, a move only allowed through a change in state policy, police said.

Police identified the man as Massachusetts native Franklin D. Feldman. He was 41 at the time of his death. Authorities determined he had lived in New York State for several years prior to his death, where police said he lived a transient lifestyle, including spending periods homeless.

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How he died will likely never be known to the advanced stage of decomposition of his remains when he was found, police said. But, police added, there was nothing that appeared to indicate criminal activity.

Feldman’s remains were found April 3, 1981 by a farmer in a wooded area at the property line between a farm and the Elm Avenue Town Park in Delmar, police said, police said.

With no identification found with the remains, police worked for several years until exhausting available leads. Then, in 2013, Bethlehem police re-opened the investigation to identify the man.

They first had to find a sample of the man’s DNA. They finally did so through a Saratoga County dentist office, police said. A previous owner of the practice had done some work trying to identify the man in 1981 and the dentist office still had the man’s mandible and maxilla – the lower and upper jaw, police said.

Examinations confirmed them to be those of the man who died and the bones were submitted for DNA analysis. They found no direct DNA matches. Then, when they tried a familial DNA search, something that has been used in several cold cases in recent years, they learned state policy did not allow for such a search simply to identify an unidentified person, police said.

The Bethlehem case was then used to get the policy changed in April 2021. Police were soon able to locate two potential relatives, an aunt and first cousin. Using those and further investigation, investigators positively identified the remains as Feldman’s, police said.

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Categories: News, Saratoga County

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