‘Chimney Doe’ was found stuffed inside a Wisconsin store’s fireplace in 1989. He just got a name.

The man identified by police had children with two women who did not know each other until police contacted them

Graig Graziosi
Thursday 16 May 2024 20:05
Related video: Suburban man charged with murder, kidnapping after human remains found in Kane County

Human bones found inside the chimney of a music store in Wisconsin in 1989 have been identified after 35 years, according to the DNA Doe Project.

The nonprofit uses genealogical research to identify the unknown individual - dubbed “Chimney Doe” - as Ronnie Joe Kirk, originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Kirk's bones and skull were first found in September 1989 lying in a pile at the bottom of a narrow chimney in a now-demolished building. A music store was located in the building before it was destroyed.

In late 2018, Madison Police Detective Lindsey Ludden contacted the DNA Doe Project and provided the group hair samples from the skull. Those were sent to Astrea Forensics in California for further analysis in 2021. The company specializes in analyzing degraded biological samples.

Madison Police Department Mid Town District Capt. Jason Freedman and Det. Lindsey Ludden announce the identification of Ronnie Joe Kirk of Tulsa, Okla. as the person whose remains were discovered in a chimney of a former music store in the city In 1989. (Wisconsin State Journal)

The researchers spent two years building a suitable genealogical profile based on the samples, and eventually determined that the bones belonged to Kirk.

Kirk was born in 1942, had been adopted, was married 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,” Gwen Knapp of the DNA Doe Project told the Associated Press. "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.”

Stephanie Fryer of the Madison Police Department said Kirk last communicated with his relatives in 1970, after he divorced his second wife in Missouri. She said that Kirks' children, two from his first marriage and one from his second, are now in the 50's and did not know each other until they were contacted by police.

No additional information was given regarding the relatives. Madison police noted that Kirk's children have asked for privacy regarding the identification of their father's remains.

The circumstances leading to Kirk's body ending up in a chimney were not revealed during the announcement.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in