Missing California 4-Year-Old Boy Derrick Burton's Skull Identified Through DNA 32 Years After He Vanished

Boy Skull
The skull of a boy who went missing 32 years ago has been identified through DNA testing.Getty/Stock

A child's skull found 32 years ago has finally been identified as belonging to a 4-year-old boy who disappeared in California.

A child's skull found in 1991 in the California wilderness has been identified as belonging to a 4-year-old boy who went missing that same year.

Little Derrick Burton was 4 when he vanished in San Bernardino County and his mother reported him missing, according to the local sheriff's department.

In a different part of the sprawling county, a hunter looking for quail stumbled upon a small human skull and called authorities

After an extensive search, deputies found no other body parts, but did find a plastic bag that smelled of human remains and contained children's clothing, authorities said.

The case went cold and was never solved.

Late last year, investigators sent the skull to Othram Inc., a forensic genealogy company, for DNA testing. Those tests led to distant relatives in Houston, authorities said. The relatives provided genetic samples that led to the boy's mother, Patricia Clark, who had reported him missing after he disappeared while in the care of other family members.

"Clark was a 100% parental match to the human remains of the child Doe, now known to be Derrick Burton," said a statement released last week by the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department.

Homicide detectives are trying to determine a cause of death. Anyone with information is asked to contact the department's cold case team at 909-890-4904.

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