Teen Who Disappeared in the 1960s Identified Through DNA and Genealogy

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
A sketch of Daniel Paul “Danny” Armantrou.National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The teen wasn't able to be identified in 1961 because he hadn't been carrying an identification card, and attempts to find his family failed.

A young hitchhiker who disappeared in the 60s has now been identified by DNA and genetic genealogy, authorities said.

Daniel Paul “Danny” Armantrout, 15, is the oldest case involving the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to be solved through the technology, according to reports. Armantrout vanished in March 1961 when he was hitchhiking along Highway 25 in Alabama after he’d run away from home because of his parents’ divorce, WHIO TV reported.

A short time later, a man, James White, picked up the teen, but the pair got into an accident and the car ended up in the Cahaba River. White survived but Armantrout did not. Identifying Armantrout didn’t come until recently, however, because Armantrout had no identification on him, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. He was wearing a Timex and had a full suitcase of clothes with him when he died.

Authorities had tried to locate the boy’s family, but could not and the boy was buried at Centreville Memorial Cemetery a couple of weeks later.

“It’s really a shocker to all of us,” Bibb County Coroner C.W. West said, according to AL.com. “I had my doubts at first, just because of how long it’s been. I am very relieved and excited and overwhelmed.”

Jim Oakley, who worked for Centreville’s local newspaper at the time, told WBRC in 2016 that the case has been on his mind for 55 years. Oakley took pictures of the teen after his death so the paper could create an image of what he looked like in life. He also served as a pallbearer at Armantrout’s funeral.

In 2016, the teen was exhumed and his bone fragments and teeth from his remains were taken for DNA purposes. Eventually through a genealogy database, authorities were able to get in touch with Armantrout’s now 77-year-old brother, Alfred Armantrout.

“He wants to come up and have a memorial service and meet some of the people who worked behind the scenes to locate his brother,” West said.