Investigators identify man over 30 years after his remains wash up on Lake Ontario shore

Investigators in New York were finally able to put a name to skeletal remains that were discovered on the shore of Lake Ontario over 30 years ago, they announced Tuesday.

The remains were “badly decomposed and mostly skeletal” when they were found in April 1992 near what is now a Novelis aluminum plant, according to a news release from the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office. The medical examiner’s office determined the man died between 6 months and 5 years prior to the discovery of the body, but investigators weren’t able to identify the remains, according to the release.

In 2008, a DNA profile of the remains was uploaded to CODIS, the FBI’s national DNA database, but the effort did not create any additional leads.

The sheriff’s office renewed efforts to identify his remains in April 2022, according to the release. Police obtained a new DNA sample from the remains, and the Niagara Regional Police Service in Ontario began comparing the sample with unsolved cases in Canada and the Lake Ontario region, according to the release.

Vincent C. Stack went missing in Niagara Falls State Park on or around December 4, 1990, and was believed to have gone over the falls, police said. He was believed to be 40 years old at the time he went missing, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

In February 2024, the new DNA sample from the remains was found to be a match to DNA collected from Stack’s family members, the sheriff’s office said. Vincent’s family was notified of the identification in person, police said.

Given where he went missing and where his body was found, police believe his remains moved about 15 miles to the mouth of the Niagara River and then another 130 miles across Lake Ontario before being discovered on the shore just outside of Oswego about a year and a half later.

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