GLEN BURNIE, Md. — Thanks to advancements in forensic technology, a man who was murdered more than 30 years ago in Anne Arundel County has been identified, and details of his life and his disappearance are coming to light as police search for his killer.
On April 23, 1985, a crew clearing a lot for the eventual construction of the Marley Station Mall discovered human remains in a metal container near Route 2 and Marley Station Road in Glen Burnie, Anne Arundel County Police said. The body was too badly deteriorated for an identification to be made at the time, but the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was able to rule the death a homicide due to trauma to the upper body. Coins dating to 1963 were found on the man, donned “John Doe," but with no other evidence or identification, the case went cold.
As forensic technology advanced, Anne Arundel County Police stuck with the case, eventually pulling in scientists from the Smithsonian Institute in an attempt to make a clay mold of the man’s face in an attempt to identify him.
In May of 2018, Parabon NanoLabs, a forensic technology company based in Virginia, utilized DNA phenotyping to identify the John Doe. Phenotyping is a process where the lab can take DNA information and use it to predict how a person might look based on likely traits that would be expressed based on that genetic material. By Christmas of that year, police and technicians believed they may have made a potential identification of the man. By April 15, 2019, an identity was confirmed as Roger Hearne Kelso.
Kelso was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but his family moved to Maryland shortly thereafter, eventually settling in the 100 block of Whip Lane in Glen Burnie. Kelso attended Glen Burnie High School from 1958 to 1961. In 1963, Kelso was supposed to attend a family event, but when he did not show, the family became worried, eventually reporting him as missing. Little did they know, his body would turn up more than 20 years later, and all told it would be more than half a century until they learned his fate.
On June 5, Kelso’s extended family in Arizona, Washington, Oregon, West Virginia, and Maryland learned of Roger Kelso’s fate.
Police believe he was killed in 1963, and the case remains open and active. A reward of up to $10,000 has been offered by Metro Crime Stoppers for information that might lead to an arrest or conviction in the murder. Anyone with information about this decade’s old cold case should contact Anne Arundel County Homicide Unit at 410-222-4731, the Police Tip Line at 410-222-4700, or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP.