Genealogist Helps Solve “Bundled Toddler” Case

In 1963, the concealed body of a young child was discovered in the mountains east of Ashland, Oregon. Now, nearly 60 years later, that child has been identified with the aid of genetic genealogy. 

In July of 1963, a 65-year-old man had gone fishing at the Keene Creek Reservoir, located along Greensprings Highway east of Ashland. While fishing he hooked a small wrapped bundle.

On the outside of the bundle was a patchwork quilt, which was tightly bound with wire and connected to iron molds, obviously intended to be weights.

When the fisherman opened the bundle, he found a blanket wrapped around an object. Once he removed the blanket, he discovered a fully clothed body of a small boy still wearing his shoes.  

An autopsy was performed and the death was ruled a homicide. However, the precise cause of death was not determined. The toddler was believed to be between 1 and 2 years old, and had been dead for less than a year.  

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) made several attempts to identify the boy. They tried to identify where his clothing had been purchased. He had been wearing a red, long-sleeve pullover shirt with thin white stripes, gray corduroy trousers, and a cloth diaper with blue diaper pins and covered by plastic pants. 

They tried to match the child’s footprints with those of newborns at local hospitals about the time he would have been born. They also investigated many tips, reports, and letters. But, eventually the case went cold. 

The boy was buried in a small white casket at Hillcrest Memorial Park, in Medford, Oregon.

His headstone was inscribed “Unknown Baby Boy, 1961-1963.”

Over subsequent years, dozens of sheriffs, detectives, and deputies with the JCSO, Oregon State Police, and FBI had re-worked the cold case to no avail. 

In 2007, JCSO volunteer special Investigator Jim Tattersal took on the task of reviving the Keene Creek Case. He examined old boxes of evidence and case files looking for any possible evidence that may have been overlooked or to which new forensic science could be applied.  

In 2008, investigators had the boy’s tiny body exhumed for the purposes of extracting a DNA sample, performing dental identification, and skeletonizing the remains for analysis and potential facial reconstruction. During this process, signs of congenital defects in the child’s remains were revealed, and the forensic anthropologist concluded he likely had Down syndrome.  

Unfortunately, the only DNA database that was available in 2008 was the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which didn’t return any matches. However, the boy’s DNA profile remained in the system and was available for missing children searches. The unidentified boy’s remains were reburied, and the case remained unsolved. 

In 2010, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created a composite image of the boy. The hope was that the image and case information might jog someone’s memory. But, it too generated no solid leads resulting in his identification.    

In 2020, the big break in the case happened. Oregon’s Human Identification Program submitted the child’s DNA sample to Parabon NanoLabs with the goal of using phenotyping, the GEDMatch open-source database, and genetic genealogy to narrow in on an identity of the child. 

CeCe Moore

This is where CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist who has appeared on many TV shows, including The Genetic Detective, got involved in the case. Moore heads the Parabon NonoLabs genetic genealogical unit. 

Moore found two potential siblings of the unidentified child. That led investigators to speak with one of the child’s maternal half-brothers. During the interview, he told investigators that he had a sibling born with Down syndrome in New Mexico. He also said that when he was a child, his mother and brother had left on a trip. When she returned, she was alone. A birth certificate identified the child as Stevie Crawford, born Oct. 2, 1960

Unfortunately, the exact cause of Stevie’s death will never be known. Nor will we know how this innocent toddler’s body ended up discarded in a river in Oregon. According to the sheriff’s office, all potential suspects in Stevie’s death are deceased. 

Stevie’s relatives plan to have his remains returned from Oregon to New Mexico to be buried in the family plot.  

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