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Army veteran who vanished in 1976 identified as murder victim, North Carolina cops say

A folded flag sits on a casket during ceremonial funeral training at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 22, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Sadie Colbert/Released)

A U.S. Army veteran who vanished in 1976 was identified as a man found murdered that year in North Carolina, according to police.

Forensic DNA testing has revealed the man as Jimmy Mack Brooks, a veteran who was 26 at the time of his murder nearly 50 years ago, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office in Pittsboro said in a May 25 news release. Brooks’ body was found in Moncure.

“It is bittersweet to be able to share this information with his loved ones who never stopped looking for him,” Lt. Sara Pack said in a statement.

In 1976, a homicide investigation into the murder victim, now confirmed as Brooks, was put on pause for decades due to “a lack of basic information or viable clues,” the news release said.

His body, which was missing a head and hands, was found in the Cape Fear River in Moncure, according to a news release from Othram Inc., an organization that worked with the sheriff’s office and the North Carolina Unidentified Project to identify Brooks.

Brooks was previously stationed at Fort Bragg before leaving the military, Othram Inc. said.

Ultimately, forensic-grade genome sequencing helped “build a genealogical profile from skeletal remains” and DNA led to one of Brooks’ living family members who confirmed the murder victim was him, according to the sheriff’s office.

“Although his identity has finally been revealed, there are many more questions to be answered,” Pack said in the statement. “We will continue to seek justice for Jimmy and his family.”

The sheriff’s office is calling on the public to provide any information about Brooks, no matter how minor of a detail, that could help crack this cold case and lead investigators to who may have killed him, the release said.

“Anyone with information pertaining to events or circumstances leading to the disappearance and murder of Jimmy Mack Brooks is asked to call the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office at 919-542-2911.”

Moncure is roughly 30 miles southwest of Raleigh.

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