SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Police Department announced they identified the body of a man found dead in Golden Gate Park back in June 2021.
Kurt Jerome Aken was found dead lying on a blanket in a sleeping bag surrounded by trash and miscellaneous items on a trail near Metson Lake by a landscaper who was clearing ground cover at the time. According to reports, he had been dead for weeks before he was discovered.
During the investigation, police found no evidence of trauma on Aken’s body. The San Francisco Chief Medical Examiner estimated that he was about 45 years old. At the time, detectives had trouble identifying Aken and the remains were given a John Doe designation. Aken carried no identification and no one came to claim his remains.
The DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit investigative genealogy research organization, was contacted to help investigators with this case. They found a match in the range of a first cousin that was on the deceased maternal side. With that piece of evidence the Doe Project team were able to identify the specific branch of his family tree, and determined he was one of six children. Only two of the siblings were male, and a proof of life study ruled out Aken’s brother.
On Monday, March 13, DNA Doe tweeted, ”Kurt Jerome Aken died without his name in 2021 in San Francisco. Like many people experiencing homelessness, Kurt was disconnected from his family. We at @DnaDoeProject are grateful that the OCME and the @SFPD cared enough to bring his case to us.”
DNA Doe Project has “become a go-to organization for law enforcement agencies and medical examiners across North America, helping them solve their most intractable cases,” says the organization’s website.
It is still unknown what led up to Aken’s death. At the time his body was discovered, officials didn’t suspect foul play.