Jaw bone of U.S. Marine Captain who died in 1951 found in Arizona child's rock collection

A child in Arizona unknowingly had the jaw bone of a U.S. Marine Captain who was killed in 1951 during a military training exercise in his rock collection.

His remains were previously recovered in Riverside County, California and buried in Palmyra, Missouri. Now, it appears not all remains were found and buried.

"Fast forward years later to a child who wanted to build a rock collection, and increased said collection by one during a scavenging exploration, presumably in Arizona. But it was not a rock; it was a human jaw bone," said Lisa A. Ambrose, a spokesperson for the Ramapo College of New Jersey.

The bone was referred to as "Rock Collection John Doe."

The remains were handed over to the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office. In January 2023, it sought help in figuring out who this bone belonged to.

Thanks to DNA testing completed by Ramapo College Investigative Genetic Genealogy Center and the North Texas Center for Human Identification, the bone was identified as belonging to U.S. Marine Corps Captain Everett Leland Yager when compared to a DNA sample belonging to his daughter.

U.S. Marine Corps Captain Everett Leland Yager. Photo courtesy of Ramapo College of New Jersey

"It was not until March 2024 that the DNA sample from Capt. Yager's daughter confirmed a parent/child relationship, resolving the case and confirming that Rock Collection John Doe was indeed Capt. Everett Leland Yager," Ambrose said.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office says the rock was actually the boy's grandfather's. He found it looking for rocks in California and brought it back to Arizona.

You can learn more about this story and the team who helped identify the U.S. Marine Corps Captain Everett Leland Yager below: