January 13, 2022
On April 3, 1981, the Bethlehem Police Department responded to a wooded area at the property line between the Vadney Farm and the Elm Avenue Town Park in Delmar after a farmer discovered the decomposed remains of an adult male.
There was no identification on the deceased individual. The Bethlehem Police Department began an investigation and followed up on all leads for several years before all leads were exhausted. In 2013, the Bethlehem Police Department re-opened the investigation into this case and undertook efforts to identify the deceased man. Through the course of this investigation police were able to locate the mandible and maxilla of the deceased at a dentist office in Saratoga County. The previous dentist at this location had been involved in working to identify the decedent back in 1981. The mandible and maxilla were examined with the assistance of a Forensic Odonatologist from the New York State Police, and found to be those of the deceased from 1981. These bones were then submitted to the New York State Police Lab, New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the University of Texas Center for Human Identification in efforts to develop a DNA profile of the deceased.
Once a DNA profile was developed it was loaded into all State and National databases in an effort to generate leads into the identity of the deceased. The DNA profile was also submitted to New York State DCJS in an effort to match the sample with any potential familial DNA that was on file. At the time this request for familial DNA comparison was rejected as New York State Policy did not allow for the comparison of familial DNA solely for the purpose of identifying an unidentified person. As a result of this case this policy was changed in April of 2021 to now allow for the familial submission of DNA for the purposes of identifying an unidentified person.
In 2020, the Bethlehem Police Department partnered with the FBI Melville Office Investigative Genetic Genealogy Unit. FBI Melville in partnership with Othram Inc. developed a genealogical profile and generated a lead of potential family members. Police were able to locate two potential relatives, an aunt and a first cousin. DNA samples were obtained from both individuals and found to be consistent with the kinship ratio of the deceased. Based on the ensuing police investigation and the DNA evidence the deceased has been positively identified as Franklin D. Feldman. Feldman was originally from Massachusetts and had lived in New York for several years before his death. At the time of his death he was 41 years-old.
No exact cause of death was determined due to the advanced stage of decomposition of the deceased. After a review of all of the information and evidence that exists, the exact cause of death will most likely never be known, however, there is nothing at this time that appears indicative of obvious criminal activity.
Since the re-opening of this case in 2013, the investigation has been led by Commander Adam Hornick of the Bethlehem Police Department. The investigative team consisted of members of the Bethlehem Police Department in partnership with the FBI Melville Investigative Genetic Genealogy Unit, Othram Inc., the New York State Police Forensic Identification Center, the New York State Police Forensic Support Services, MAGLOCLEN, the American Association of Cold Case Investigators, the dentist office of Dr. Alan Rosell – now the office of Dr. Colin Morton, the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, the Albany County Coroner’s Office, the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, The University of Texas Center for Human Identification, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, United States Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, and NaMus. The Bethlehem Police Department would also like to thank the media for their coverage of this case which helped generate leads and echoed the message of the need for policy changes on familial DNA testing.
January 12, 2022
On Thursday, January 13, 2022, at 1:30PM, the Town of Bethlehem Police Department will be hosting a media event in regards to a major update on the April 3, 1981, discovery of human remains in the Town of Bethlehem.
This media event will be held outside, at the warming area of the Elm Avenue Town Park, located at 249 Elm Avenue, Delmar. We request that any media attending this event be on site and set up for a prompt 1:30PM start. At this media event the Bethlehem Police Department will be making an announcement in regards to the historic use of modern investigative methods which have brought this case to its current status.
December 17, 2019
The Bethlehem Police Department will continue to profile cold cases on this website in an effort to gain leads and information on these cases. Please sign up for E-News alerts (News Flash - Police Press Releases) and check back on this site regularly. The publication of cold cases and the increased use of technology and social media has been shown to provide new information and leads on cases from the past.
The Bethlehem Police Department continues to investigate the 1981 finding of human remains, in an effort to identify the decedent.
DNA of the decedent is now on file, however, NYS law currently prohibits the use of this DNA for familial DNA testing. The law is very strict on what DNA samples can be tested for familial comparison, and the identification of an unknown person is not authorized at this time. We are exploring the options of testing it through an outside vendor, however there are implications with this and we are researching all possible options before the next step in the case is taken.
On Friday, April 3, 1981, the partially decomposed remains of an adult male were found in a wooded area off of private property in Delmar, adjacent to the rear of the Elm Avenue Town Park (see image below). The remains were found by the landowner as he was attempting to repair a fence that was damaged over the winter.
At the time the decedent was determined to be 30-60 years of age, a white male, and approximately 5’11”-6’2” and 210-230 pounds (estimated based on clothing sizes and demographics). The decedent was found wearing a Vanhusen shirt, plaid, with brown, blue, yellow and red lines in it, an olive-pea green colored jacket with a zipper front and hood with fur lining, Hager slacks (size 44), white jockey style shorts (size 44-46), a black belt with a ten dollar price tag on it (size 44), and Moccasin/loafer style shoes with very little tread wear on them.
Based upon the investigation, it is believed that the decedent died around the first or second week of January. The decedent had in his possession the January 1, 1981 copies of the Spotlight Newspaper and Ravena News Herald Newspaper, small ripped up notes from a small spiral notebook, which contained phone numbers of various churches, CDTA, and local stores, as well as the remains of a bus ticket (not identifiable).
As a result of the recent re-opened investigation Bethlehem Police have obtained a DNA profile on the decedent. Dental records are also available. The decedent had multiple fillings in his teeth, which appeared well-cared for, and also showed signs of teeth grinding. The Bethlehem Police Department is exploring the possibility that the decedent was in the military at some point in their life, but this is not confirmed as of this time.
In April of 1981, the decedent was buried in Graceland Cemetery in Albany, in a pauper’s grave. This case has been loaded into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), and is available for public viewing at https://www.namus.gov/UnidentifiedPersons/Case#/15545.
Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact the Bethlehem Police Department, at 518-439-9973 or firstname.lastname@example.org.