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Human remains found in Washington State in 2009 identified as missing Penticton man

After more than a decade, the family of Jim (James) Neufeld finally has some closure.

Human remains that were pulled from the waters of the Salish Sea off of Parker Reef on May 23, 2009 have now been officially identified as belonging to Neufeld.

Neufeld, who was 55 at the time, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton on Jan. 21, 2009.

<who>Photo Credit: RCMP</who>Jim (James) Neufeld

His green 1997 Plymouth Voyager was discovered under the Alexandria Bridge near the Fraser River on Feb. 3, 2009 by the Hope RCMP.

When his remains were pulled from the Salish Sea four months later, they were brought to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner for anthropological and forensic studies.

However, despite the best efforts by US officials, they were unable to be identified.

“At first I was confident we would find his identity and family right away,” said Randall Gaylord, San Juan County coroner.

Gaylord said his office was frustrated when the case went cold, but thankful that a fresh look by Jane Jorgensen at the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office was successful.

“Jorgensen recognized that DNA record keeping has improved and it would be worthwhile to renew our search in Canada,” explained Gaylord.

“The Salish Sea crosses political borders and when people are found near the boundary we enjoy the cooperation with the BC Coroners Service and RCMP.”

<who>Photo Credit: Google Maps</who>Neufeld's car was found abandoned under the Alexandria Bridge, while his body was pulled from the Salish Sea off of Parker Reef 4 months later.

In September 2020, the renewed efforts to establish a DNA profile in partnership with the BC Coroners Service were successful, as they were positively matched to Neufeld.

“This case highlights not only the international, multi-agency cooperation that takes place between Canadian and US officials daily for cross border matters, but showcases the sheer dedication of our investigators in bringing answers to James Neufeld’s loved ones,” said Supt. Ray Carfantan of the Southeast District RCMP.

“We were comforted and humbled by James’ family, when we delivered the news in person, who believe this will bring hope to other families who continue to search for a loved one”

The RCMP is asking the public and media to respect Neufeld’s family’s privacy at this time.

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