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Unidentified Person

1987 Whatcom County John Doe

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  • Last updated: March 15, 2023
  • Whatcom County, WA
  • September 20, 1987

Overview of 1987 Whatcom County John Doe

A Georgia-Pacific West Inc. worker found the decedent's crumpled skeletal remains atop parallel pipes near the bottom inside chimney No. 9. The pipes, which carried water heated by boiler exhaust, were 240 degrees. The air was 95 degrees, unless the boiler was running, when temperatures reached 370.

Officials estimated the victim had been in the chimney a few days to a few weeks. Records showed the boiler operated for 34 hours during September 17 and September 18, two days before the body was found, plus more hours the previous month.

The chimney was difficult to reach. The person had to climb a number of stairs inside the plant, and then make his way to the roof of the building. Although a metal door was present at the base of the stack, it took police two hours to pry it open, making it an unfeasible way for the decedent to have gotten in.

A medical examination yielded the presence of broken bones, indicating the body probably fell into the stack. The unusual location of the body fueled speculation that the discovery was that of a murder or suicide victim. Nothing was located to indicate he was a worker, and no workers were reported missing nor any abandoned vehicles located.

Estimated Date of Death: January to September 1987 State of Remains: Charred/Skeletal Cause of Death: Unknown

Dentals: Available. Dental work included silver and gold fillings and possibly a root canal. It was not indigent dental work but was good quality care for the time frame. Fingerprints: Not available. DNA: Not available. Chimney heat destroyed DNA.

Clothing: Charred remnants of denim pants and a denim jacket, a lightweight shirt, and rubber-soled shoes. The coat was found under the body, apparently to shield him from the heat. The shirt was draped or wrapped around one ankle, possibly to bind an injury. Jewelry: Unknown Additional Personal Items: Burnt remnant of a Continental Airlines ticket or baggage claim, but could not make out the numbers to trace the ticket.

The Doe Network Case Number: 862UMWA


  1. Date Found:September 20, 1987
  2. NAMUS Number:Unknown
  3. Race:Caucasian / White
  4. Gender:Male
  5. Height:5'8" to 5'9"
  6. Weight:130 to 155 lbs
  7. Hair Color:Unknown
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