DNA Breakthrough Unveils Solution to Decades-Old Crater Lake Mystery, Identifying Texas Homicide Victim

DNA Breakthrough Unveils Solution to Decades-Old Crater Lake Mystery, Identifying Texas Homicide VictimSource: Unsplash/ Scott Rodgerson
Maddie Taylor Hartley
Published on December 10, 2023

The cold and murky waters of Crater Lake in Montgomery County, Texas, have held the secret of a slain man's identity for over three decades. But thanks to the unyielding work of cold-case detectives and advancements in DNA technology, the victim of a brutal homicide dating back to 1986 has finally been identified as Clarence Lynn Wilson.

In what might seem like a scene plucked straight from a crime drama, the discovery of Wilson's body on August 3, 1986, near FM 3083 and Exxon Rd. sparked an investigation that would lay dormant for years due to the limitations of forensic science at the time. The body was described as being a white male 20-30 years of age, with distinct tattoos, and submerged in the water weighed down by cinder blocks, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, as reported by Click2Houston.com.

Despite initial efforts that included the exhumation of the body in 2015 for DNA analysis and facial approximation, the identity of the deceased eluded authorities. It wasn't until a second exhumation in May 2023 leveraging Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG) that the tireless detectives found a break in the case; Othram Lab was pivotal in obtaining more DNA and conducting a genealogy assessment, which led investigators to a relative in California, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office shared on Facebook.

With the relative's voluntary submission of a DNA sample, Othram Lab confirmed a familial match in October 2023 and brought an end to the mystery surrounding Wilson's identity—but not the questions circling his untimely demise. The body that bore tattoos, including a small devil with a painted tail and the names "Liz" and "Baby Dawn" was finally given a name, a humanity that had been stripped from him by both his murderer and time itself. The homicide investigation into Wilson’s death remains active, and authorities ask if anyone knows Clarence or has any information to contact the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Squad at 936-760-5820 or Multi-County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-392-STOP [7867].