Decades Later, Human Skull Identified as Man Missing From Trenton, NJ
Authorities in Pennsylvania say that a skull discovered in 1986 on the banks of the Delaware River belongs to a man who was reported missing in New Jersey the year before.
Thanks to advanced DNA technology and help from the victim's daughter, officials were able to announce on Monday that the skull belonged to Richard Thomas Alt, who was reported missing to Trenton authorities in early 1985. He was last seen on Christmas Eve 1984 by his parents, the Bucks County District Attorney's Office said.
“I can’t even imagine wondering and worrying about a lost family member for even a day, let alone for 37 years. That wait is now over for Mr. Alt’s family,” District Attorney Matt Weintraub said. “I’m just glad that we could give them some peace of mind with this identification, and the eventual return of his remains to his family.”
Alt and his girlfriend are considered to be homicide victims. His girlfriend's body was discovered in April 1985 in the Delaware River in Trenton.
With the latest news, Bucks County officials consider their investigation "closed" due to lack of evidence of any crime happening in their jurisdiction.
Mercer County officials in New Jersey say the cause of their deaths remains unknown.
The investigation that led to the identification of Alt began in June 1986 when a fisherman found a human skull on the banks of the Delaware River in Morrisville.
In 2019, the Bucks County Coroner's Office entered the skull into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database. Then in September 2022, Bucks County detectives sent the skull to a lab in Texas, Othram, Inc., for forensic genealogy testing.
Bucks County detectives learned earlier this year from Othram that a possible match had been found for the skull on a public genealogy database that allows users to upload their DNA profile.
The contributor to that database was a 49-year-old woman from Florida, who said she was 11 years old when her father, Richard Thomas Alt, went missing in Trenton.
Othram used the woman's DNA profile to confirm a parent/child relationship match with Alt.