MERCER COUNTY, Ohio (WANE) — The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office announced at a press conference Tuesday that they were able to connect bones found in 2016 to a missing person’s case in 2015.
The remains belong to Ryan Zimmerman, 22, of Columbus, Ohio who was reported missing by his parents in November of 2015.
In January of 2016, a woman was walking her dog in a western Ohio state park when she found a bone that appeared to be human. She contacted authorities and an investigation began to identify the victim.
Mercer County detectives have been working the case for the last three and a half years. Forensic analysts were unable to use regular techniques for identification because the head was sawed off and arms and legs were cut off at the joints.
A full DNA profile of the victim was extracted by North Texas University and was uploaded into the Federal Combined DNA System and National Missing and Unidentified Person database. Neither produced a positive match.
The detectives turned to matching any skeletal remains that were found in surrounding areas, however, all were ruled out.
In May 2017, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department contracted IsoForensics who created a map based on the water content found in the bones. The water samples were compared to regional dirt samples across the country to find areas where the victim could have lived the last 10 years of his life.
An area that hit all the compound found was near north of Corbin, Kentucky.
An analyst at BCI became intrigued with the case because the time frame, victim’s age and description matched a missing person’s case in Columbus. The missing person was Zimmerman.
Mercer County Police say that Zimmerman moved to Columbus, Ohio in Aug. 2015 and was living with an undisclosed person who he met on the internet at the time of his disappearance.
The parents of Zimmerman reported him missing after they received a certified letter that his car had been impounded. When he was unable to make contact, he drove to Columbus to get the car. On November 17, 2015 a missing person’s report was filed in Columbus.
A DNA analysis of the Zimmerman was not in the system, so DNA from his mother and father was compared to the skeletal remains to make a positive identification.
Detectives contacted Columbus Police Department to gather more information about the missing person’s case. Working with Corbin Kentucky Police, they were able to give the death notice to Zimmerman’s family and gather more information.
The parents have been ruled out as suspects in the case, according to the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department.
Current subjects of interest are being located and questioned by authorities.
A location for the murder has not been found. Mercer County Police believe that his body was brought to the state park after his death.
The Mercer County Sheriff’s Department is asking the public to help them share Zimmerman’s photo to try and get more information.