COLD CASE | Boyd County, Ky ‘John Doe’ identified

A company out of Texas helped identify a man whose body was found in a shallow grave three years ago.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 3:09 PM EDT
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BOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) - A body discovered in 2020 in a shallow grave in Boyd County, Kentucky has been identified.

Boyd County Coroner Mark Hammond confirmed on Thursday the John Doe has been identified as Zachary Taylor Pearson, who was from St. Albans, West Virginia.

Pearson’s body was found by a couple hunters on a property off East Park Drive in July of 2020. He’d been shot. Pearson was 23.

The identity of the victim remained a mystery for three years.

“We knew very little about him and kept running into brick walls trying to find any information we could,” Hammond said.

The coroner tells a company called Othram, which is based out of Texas and runs a website called, reached out to investigators and helped identify the victim.

Hammond says one of Pearson’s family members had shared their own DNA with a commercial family-ancestry type site, and that’s how the break in this case was made.

Hammond says the company has been working with Kentucky authorities and investigators. Kentucky State Police are handling the investigation.

“This is really a game-changer for trying to find somebody that is unidentified,” Hammond said.

Hammond says at no point was the victim ever reported missing.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.