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Body found on James River 3 years ago ID’d using DNA, genealogy database

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Authorities said DNA and a genealogy database were key to identifying a man whose body was discovered along the banks of the James River in Chesterfield County more than three years ago.

The discovery was made on the afternoon of Sunday, March 13, 2016, behind the Airgas plant in the 1300 block of Bellwood Road.

"We had a call from a fisherman or a boater that was traveling down the James and stated that they saw something that appeared to possibly be a body on the side of the shore," Captain Richard McCullough said at the time

Three years later, officials credited a private forensics laboratory in Florida with helping identify 39-year-old Hassan A. Alkebu-Lan of Richmond.

"After traditional investigative methods failed to identify the man, detectives sought the services of Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA technology company in Reston, Virginia, that specializes in advanced DNA analysis techniques, including genetic genealogy," Chesterfield Police officials said.

Officials said DNA Labs International in Florida supplied a DNA sample using "biological material" from Alkebu-Lan to Parabon for genetic genealogy analysis.

"Parabon submitted a genetic data profile of the unidentified male to a public genetic genealogy database, called GEDmatch, for comparison in hopes of finding individuals who shared significant amounts of DNA with the man," officials said.

After matches were discovered and additional genealogical research, investigators identified Alkebu-Lan.

Officials said while there are no signs of foul play, Alkebu-Lan's cause of death remains under investigation.

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