A mystery involving the identity of a young man killed in a car crash two decades ago has finally been solved. “Grateful Doe” is the moniker given to a 19-year-old man who was killed in a car accident in Virginia twenty years ago. His identity has been a mystery ever since. Though the driver was positively identified by family, the passenger was oddly unknown to anyone, and his name has remained a mystery that, until very recently, had not been solved.
According to the Washington Post, nothing was found on the teenager’s body to point to his identity. The unfortunate young man was wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt and carried two of the popular band’s concert tickets in his pocket. Hence, the nickname “Grateful Doe” was created. Apparently, he was so badly injured that his face was virtually unrecognizable.
‘Grateful Doe,’ unknown victim of fatal Emporia crash, ID’d 20 years later https://t.co/NXYCOqUirh
— 8News WRIC Richmond (@8NEWS) December 10, 2015
Though missing persons reports were checked, a match was never found, elevating this mystery to new heights. It appeared the mystery would never be solved. A Facebook page was set up with the desire to see the mystery that haunted researchers for years solved. Many amateur detectives investigated the mystery through websites such as Websleuths. A kind message was left on the page by those who were so touched by the mystery of “Grateful Doe” they chose to investigate until the mystery was solved.
“Dedicated to the young man who lost his life in June 1995 and was never claimed. RIP. May the four winds blow you safely home.”
Though it may be difficult to understand how someone of such a tender age could be missed by no one, as the story unfolds we begin to understand exactly why this mystery went so many years before being solved.
Apparently, “Grateful Doe,” now positively identified as Jason Callahan, left his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to follow the Grateful Dead band. On the night of his death, he hitched a ride and unfortunately never made it to his destination, as the vehicle was involved in a deadly crash.
In December of 2014, a Reddit user widely circulated Jason Callahan’s computer-generated image on social media, newspapers, radio, and television after meeting two of Jason’s former friends, who solved part of the mystery by informing her of his first name and where he had lived.
Jason’s mother, Margaretta Evans, filed a missing persons report in January of this year, after seeing the pictures of her son. This was the final piece of the puzzle that fell into place to solve the decades-old mystery. She had never filed a report because she thought he was purposely staying away from family. ABC News reports that Callahan had run away from home on more than one occasion, and the last time Margaretta saw him, he said he was leaving to follow the Grateful Dead. Even had his mother thought him missing, she would have had no idea when or where to file a report. Callahan’s sister, Shannon Michelson, stated a report was never filed because they thought “he wanted to be missing”.
— WTVR CBS 6 Richmond (@CBS6) December 10, 2015
Once the report was filed and his family submitted DNA samples, it took a long eleven months for the mystery to officially be solved. “Grateful Doe” was positively identified as Jason Callahan.
In a heartwarming end to a sad, sad story, the Washington Post further reports that Margaretta Evans has become interested in mystery, as well, and helps to ensure others are solved by posting pictures and information of missing children and abused animals.
It was a long time coming, but the mystery of “Grateful Doe” has been solved at last.
[Image via Shutterstock]