Human remains found in Mill Creek shed in 2015 identified

Human remains found in Mill Creek shed in 2015 identified
Left: The shed where Terry Deggs was discovered in 2015. Right: Terry Deggs (SCME/Snohomish County)

MILL CREEK, Wash. — The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office on Monday identified remains found in Mill Creek in 2015.

The Medical Examiner’s Office says the remains are those of 65-year-old Nathaniel Terrance “Terry” Deggs, originally from Baltimore, Maryland and later The Bronx, New York.

The remains were found on Jan. 11, 2015 in a disused shed in a wooded area behind an unoccupied residence on the Bothell-Everett Highway in Mill Creek.

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Investigators said it was apparent that the individual found in the shed had been living there for an extended period of time, but there were no clues on the identity of the person.

“Found among the items in the shed was the name of a man who was later discovered to be the owner of the property on which the shed was located,” Snohomish County officials said.

According to investigators, the property owner said he first met the man in 1985 after finding him living in a collapsed barn on a different property his family owned.

The property owner help nurse the man back to health and allowed him to move into the shed on the Bothell-Everett Highway.

Investigators said they were able able to recover a single, partial fingerprint from the remains but neither the Federal Bureau of Investigations nor the Washington State Patrol were able to find a match.

“An exam of the remains concluded that they were that of an adult African-American male between 50-65 years of age who was estimated to have been deceased anywhere from nine months to two years. He was also noted to be missing a finger on his right hand,” officials said.

Officials said they searched through handwritten letters, conducted a dental exam and send a small section of the right femur for DNA extraction but were unable to identify the remains.

In 2016, investigators said the skull was examined and a forensic reconstruction drawing was created.

After exhausting all leads, investigators said they were connected with the DNA Doe Project -- an all-volunteer organization using forensic genealogy to help law enforcement and medical examiner/coroner offices identify their John and Jane Doe cases. Click here for more information about the DNA Doe Project.

Officials said the DNA Doe Project was able to contact a woman who said her half-brother Terrance “Terry” Deggs was unaccounted for.

“This sibling had done a previous DNA test at AncestryDNA, which she uploaded to GEDmatch and ultimately matched at the half-sibling level to the Mill Creek Shed Man,” officials said.

After reviewing the findings provided by the DNA Doe Project, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office formally identified the remains as Nathaniel Terrance “Terry” (Davies) Deggs and provided the following background information:

“Born Nathaniel Terrance Davies in 1949 in Baltimore, Maryland, Terry, as he was known to his family, was raised by a foster family and moved to New York at a young age. He would later take on the last name of his foster family, Deggs. He was one of 15 siblings including three sets of twins (one set of twins died in utero). His half-sister was able to provide information known about Jerry Deggs that matched him perfectly, including the date of birth he provided to Mill Creek Police in one of their previous interactions, and that he had previously worked as a bank security guard in The Bronx, New York. She stated that the family had lost touch with him in the early 1980s following the death of his foster mother. They had searched for him many times over the last three decades and had no idea what might have driven him to relocate to the Pacific Northwest.”