Joseph Dowley: DNA tests link remains to missing Irishman

Family photo: North Wales Police

DNA tests have linked human remains from an unmarked grave to a missing Irishman.

Police believe the remains, exhumed from Menai Bridge cemetery in June, belong to Joseph Dowley, who disappeared in October 1985 after a return visit to his hometown of Kilkenny.

The 63 year-old was living in London at the time and was last seen being driven to catch a ferry from Dún Laoghaire to Holyhead.

A few weeks after his visit, a man’s body was discovered on Rhosneigr beach by an airman from nearby RAF Valley – it was thought have been brought ashore on the tide. But efforts to identify the body were unsuccessful and the local coroner returned an open verdict at an inquest.

The High Court quashed the verdict in May and ordered the remains to be exhumed, after granting an injunction by North West Wales coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones.

Detectives working on ‘Operation Orchid’ have used the latest DNA technology to identify human remains found in North Wales over the last five decades – and in the process, solve missing persons’ cold cases.

North Wales Police

Police say the coroner will now consider all of the evidence to decide whether the remains can now be formally identified. Mr Dowley’s family have been informed about the latest developments in the investigation.

Det Sgt Don Kenyon said: ”We have received a very positive result from the familial DNA analysis of the remains exhumed from Menai Bridge Cemetery on June 19.”

“The DNA report has been sent to…Mr Dewi Pritchard Jones, who has already been provided with a full file of evidence in relation to the case of missing person. Mr Joseph Brendan Dowley.”

”We combine the latest advances in DNA technology and traditional investigative methods to help conclude enquiries started years ago to help bring some closure to families who have lived with uncertainty for such a long time.”

”Criminality is not suspected in any of the cases and the focus of the operation is simply to identify, reunite and allow the dignity of a funeral service for family and friends to pay their respects.”

Mr Dowley’s family contacted North Wales Police last year amid new forensic efforts to solve similar cold cases using advanced forensic techniques.

His son, Alan, told RTE’s Prime Time programme that they had uncovered new evidence from a woman who lived with Mr Dowley in London, suggesting that the body could belong to him.

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