Remains found in Snohomish County over 40 years ago identified

A set of human remains that were found in Snohomish County in 1979 have been identified as those of an Everett man who had gone missing, the county announced late last week.

The remains were found Jan. 3, 1979, by a duck hunter on tide flats near Spencer Island, just south of Marysville. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office determined that there were no suspicious circumstances, and the next day the county coroner classified the man’s cause and manner of death as undetermined.

The remains were buried at Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Everett on March 15, 1979. The case grew cold over the years, until Det. Jim Scharf with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office cold case team and retired Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ken Cowsert started reexamining old unsolved homicides and unidentified persons cases in 2008.

In July 2015, the remains were exhumed and taken to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office for further examination, at which point they were given the name Spencer Island Doe.

The medical examiner’s office entered the case into the National Missing and Unidentified Person System, a federal database with information on missing, unidentified, and unclaimed persons cases from across the country.

In April 2016, a forensic artist made a facial reconstruction based on facial morphology, showing what the person may have looked like. That same month, an examination of the remains estimated that they belonged to a Caucasian adult male between five feet, two inches and five feet, six inches in height, and between 27 and 61 years old.

In 2021, the medical examiner’s office started working with forensic genealogy corporation Othram to obtain advanced DNA profiles for unsolved cold cases.

In May 2021, Othram obtained a DNA extract that was sufficient for testing. Biogeographical analysis of the DNA profile revealed that the decedent was Caucasian.

The DNA profile was uploaded to DNA database companies GEDMatch and FamilyTreeDNA, where it received several matches.

An investigator with the medical examiner’s office built ancestor trees using the top matches and found a man who had gone missing in the Everett area in the late 1970s, Gary Lee Haynie.

DNA testing of Haynie’s half-sister confirmed that he was the Spencer Island Doe.

According to the county, Haynie was not reported missing, or may have been reporting missing but the missing persons records were lost over time or during the transition from paper to digital. Haynie was around 29 years old when he went missing.

The circumstances of Haynie’s disappearance are unknown.