Authorities have identified a man who committed suicide just after 9/11 and sparked internet conspiracy theories about his alleged involvement in the attacks, ending a saga that has befuddled investigators.
On September 17, 2001, investigators in Washington state found the body of a man who checked into a motel in Amanda Park under the name ‘Lyle Stevik.’
Sheriff’s deputies soon discovered that ‘Stevik’, who hanged himself in the closet of his motel room, was an alias.
They would spend ‘countless hours’ over the next decade-and-a-half trying to ascertain the man’s identity, according to KXRO.
On Reddit, posters circulated conspiracy theories speculating that the man was tied to the airline hijackings that brought down the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon, according to Mel Magazine.
‘Maybe he was of Middle Eastern descent and was involved in the planning and execution of 9/11,’ speculated one internet user.
‘Maybe he was meant to martyr himself and felt guilt over letting down his comrades, or he helped plan the event, saw the destruction he helped create and couldn’t handle the guilt.’
Authorities have identified a man who committed suicide over 16 years ago but left no trace of his real identity. The images above are composite sketches of ‘Lyle Stevik’, an alias, based on DNA information gleaned by DNA Doe Project
Authorities were unable to ascertain his identity for nearly two decades. The Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office in Washington state sought the public’s help
On Reddit, posters circulated conspiracy theories speculating that the man was tied to the airline hijackings that brought down the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon
Finally, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office announced last week that it has positively identified ‘Stevik’ and that it has notified the man’s family in California.
Contrary to conspiracy theories alleging that he was of ‘Middle Eastern’ descent, DNA analysts found that he was part Hispanic, part Native American.
The Sheriff’s Office and the County Coroner’s Office said that the major break in the case came earlier this year when they were contacted by the non-profit DNA Doe Project.
DNA Doe Project is a volunteer organization that helps identify the unnamed dead so that their bodies can be returned to their families.
The organization offered to fund ‘Stevik’s’ DNA analysis in the hopes of identifying him so that the next of kin could be notified.
In September 2001, the man’s body was found hanging in his motel room in Amanda Park
Investigators found a crumpled piece of paper which read ‘suicide’ and a folded note with the words ‘for the room’ held $160
The man had no ID and motel staff were unable to recognize him
The coroner’s office obliged, giving DDP a DNA sample.
Since obtaining the sample on March 20, the group, which relies on donations from the public, said that around 20 volunteers worked hundreds of hours to try and match ‘Stevik’ with a family.
‘Most of all, our success depended on the countless people who had taken direct-to-consumer DNA tests, and who had uploaded their results to GEDmatch,’ the organization said in a statement.
‘They weighed the risks and benefits, and happily the benefits won out. Lyle is a proof of that.’
The group says that its analysis of ‘Stevik’s’ DNA led them to samples given by relatives.
DNA Doe Project is a volunteer organization that helps identify the unnamed dead so that their bodies can be returned to their families. It solicited funds from donors and had volunteers work hundreds of hours before they finally traced ‘Stevik’ to a family in California
‘We can confirm that one of his grandparents did in fact come from Rio Arriba, New Mexico, where many of his DNA cousins’ families originated,’ the group said.
‘If there is more we can share at some point, we will do so.’
Finally, DDP found a possible match with a family that lives in California.
Through fingerprints provided by the family to investigators from the sheriff’s office, ‘Stevik’ was positively identified.
The family said that they had believed all this time that ‘Stevik’ was alive but simply chose not to associate with them.
He was 25 years old at the time of his death.
The family has requested that ‘Stevik’s’ real name not be released.
‘Cases like these are heart-breaking,’ Margaret Press, a co-founder of DNA Doe Project.
‘During those hundreds of hours there wasn’t one where we didn’t all think of the family he left behind. They are what kept us going.’