Bones found in chimney at Wisconsin music shop finally identified after decades

Police in Wisconsin have finally solved a half-century-old mystery related to bones that were found in the chimney of a music shop.

The remains were a positive match for Ronnie Joe Kirk, a Tulsa, Oklahoma native, according to the DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit that uses genealogy to identify unknown persons, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

However, how he got there, or how he dies remains unknown.

Kirk disappeared in 1970 after losing contact with his family.

His skeletal remains, including his skull, were discovered by a Madison music shop owner in September 1989 at the bottom of a chimney in a University Avenue building that has since been demolished.

For decades, he was known only as “Chimney Doe.”

It took two years to develop a DNA profile for Kirk, whose remains were uncovered 35 years ago. AP
Workers excavate the parking lot of the Good ‘n Loud Music in Madison in 1989 AP

Madison Detective Lindsey Ludden contacted the DNA Doe Project in 2018 and provided them with a hair sample from Chimney Doe’s skull. In 2021, that was then sent to Astrea Forensics, a California-based DNA sequencing company that specializes in degraded samples.

Gwen Knapp of the DNA Doe Project said it took more than two years to develop a DNA profile suitable for investigating genetic genealogy for Kirk, who has an interesting family tree.

Born in 1942, Kirk was adopted, married and divorced twice and had three children. 

“This was such a unique case with adoption, and multiple generations of different marriages, despite having a relatively close DNA relative match in the family,” Knapp said. “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.”

Kirk’s last confirmed contact with relatives was in 1970 when he divorced his second wife in Missouri, according to Madison police spokesperson Stephanie Fryer.

Kirk has two children from his first marriage and one from his second. They’re all in their 50s and did not know each other until investigators reached out. Both of his ex-wives remarried.

Investigators are looking into Kirk’s life and how his remains ended up at the bottom of a chimney. AP

No additional information was provided about Kirk’s family, whom police said have asked for privacy at this time.

Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said investigators will next determine who Kirk is and how he wound up in Wisconsin. No missing persons report was ever filed for Kirk, who has ties to Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas and Alabama.

The medical examiner’s office is also going to be reanalyzing the bones, Barnes said.

A “severe” pelvic fracture was long thought by authorities to have been connected to his death, which was estimated to have occurred roughly two years before his bones were found.

However a 1957 newspaper article reported that a 14-year-old boy named Ronnie Joe Kirk was riding a scooter when he was hit by a car — possibly explaining the mysterious injury.

With Post Wires

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Biden administration hit with first lawsuit over border ‘crackdown’

The first lawsuit challenging President Biden’s recent executive order on immigration was…

‘Presumed Innocent’ On Apple TV+ Uses Sex Scenes As Exposition — And That’s A Good Thing

There’s a lot to love about Apple TV+’s limited series Presumed Innocent,…

16 Handles founder Solomon Choi dies at 44

Solomon Choi, who founded New York City’s self-serve frozen yogurt concept 16 Handles in…

Unemployment rate falls slightly as 40,000 new jobs created

Australia’s unemployment rate fell slightly last month, down 0.1 per cent after…