Skeleton Found in Music Store Chimney in 1989 Is Finally ID'd: Who Is 'Chimney Doe?'

Police in Madison, Wis., said the identification is "just the first major step in the investigation"

<p> DNA DOE Project</p> Reconstruction of remains.

DNA DOE Project

Reconstruction of remains.

The skeletal remains of a man found dead in a chimney in 1989 have finally been identified.

According to a press release from DNA Doe Project, the Madison Police Department in Wisconsin successfully identified the man – known as "Chimney Doe" – as Ronnie Joe Kirk.

The nonprofit organization stated that Kirk, whose body was found in a dress, was originally from Tulsa, Okla., and that his "last known ties" were in Madison. Kirk’s body was found on September 3, 1989, in the chimney of Good ‘n Loud Music, which has since been closed.

The owners saw a skull through a pipe that connected the boiler to the chimney, and later authorities found a full human skeleton.

<p> DNA DOE Project</p> Ronnie Joe Kirk

DNA DOE Project

Ronnie Joe Kirk

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An autopsy revealed that the remains were those of a white male, 18-35 years old, and roughly 5 feet, 7 inches tall.

The DNA Doe Project aided law enforcement and forensics experts in the identification of Kirk’s body after being consulted in December 2019 by Madison police.

The organization found that Kirk had been adopted, which “presented a unique challenge in tracing his familial connections.” Gwen Knapp, the DNA Doe Project Team Leader, said in the release: “The shrewd genealogy work done by my team was amazing to tease out the various relationships. We’re so excited that we can give Ronnie Kirk his name back and hope his family has some closure for Ronnie being missing for so long.”

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During a press conference by Madison police on Monday, May 13, Chief Shon Barnes said the identification is "just the first major step in the investigation." Barnes said the next steps are figuring out "who Ronnie was and how he ended up in Madison."

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Barnes hopes that Kirk’s identification will encourage people within the community to come forward with new information to investigators.

“Someone will remember him and we’ll do everything that we can to try to trace down if he worked here, if he lived here, or if he was just passing through, or going somewhere else," Barnes said.

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