Published On: Sun, Jan 22nd, 2017

Missing Seattle hiker Richard Arneson identified as skeleton found near Altoona

A skeleton found on the bank of the Columbia River near Altoona, Washington in May has been identified by a Texas forensics team using DNA analysis — Richard Donald Arneson.

Arneson, 62, was last seen at the Westwood shopping center in West Seattle in February of last year. The man failed to arrive at work on February 5 prompting a friend to check his home. The door was open and Arneson was gone.

The police investigation resulted in a missing person case, but with no signs of foul play and little evidence to point the police in any direction, the case went cold. The same concerned friend received a text message from Arneson saying simply “My luck has run out.”


The DNA from the skeleton was linked to DNA samples made available by his family.

“Without DNA, nobody would have been looking in this direction, and nobody would have found this guy,” Wahkiakum County Prosecutor and Coroner Dan Bigelow said.

DNA double helix photo by This image was released by the National Human Genome Research Institute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health

Bigelow told the Blue Mountain Eagle that there were no signs of foul play at this point.

Arneson, who reportedly had an interest in hiking, was dressed for the outdoors when he died. Seattle detectives will continue looking into the case to try to determine what caused Arneson to die.

Bigelow said, “They were grateful for what closure we could offer,” referring to the family.

Bigelow did reveal earlier this month that his John Doe’s dental records suggested he had fallen on hard times near the end of his life, and that he carried a woman’s ring and a keychain with a drawing of a little girl, and the name “DEBBIE” in his pocket.

“The best I can tell you without revealing other investigatory stuff is that I had heard he was well-to-do, and recently reduced in circumstances,” Bigelow said. “He did have a Debbie who was known to him, and dear to him, and predeceased him.”


photo/Alan Cleaver

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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