Man's identity revealed; was among eight sets of remains found in 2007 in East Fort Myers field
Robert “Bobbie” Ronald Soden was about 30 the last time anyone saw him alive. On Tuesday, his remains were identified as one of eight discovered in an East Fort Myers field in March 2007.
A 2007 article in The News-Press about the skeletal remains found in a sparsely populated and wooded section off Arcadia Street said investigators estimated they had been buried there for several years with no skin or clothing remaining. The bodies were stumbled on, the News-Press article said, by an ecologist doing survey work on a 10-acre lot for a developer.
Soden's remains are the fourth set to be identified; Over time, three other subjects — Jonathan Tihay, Johnathan Blevins and Eric Kohler — were identified using DNA and other investigative techniques.
The Fort Myers Police Department's Cold Case Unit working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the private DNA analysis company Parabon Nanolabs, conducted a genealogy research program working with DNA that was collected from one of the skeletal remains.
Based on the data that was searched, a family tree was developed that identified the probable identity of the person. FMPD cold case investigators then located direct relatives of the potential victim and completed direct comparison DNA with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. That comparison confirmed the identity of Soden.
In that same 2007 News-Press article, then FMPD Lt. Brian Phillips said the deaths were being handled as homicides. "...getting a victim identified is the first step toward learning what happened to them," Phillips, who retired in 2007, said.
Soden, thirty years old at the time of his last known contact with anyone, was tied by investigators to the Fort Myers area around that time. Family members were located in New Jersey, North Carolina and Washington.
Investigators believe Soden, like the others that were found in the same area, were victims of a serial killer that was active in the area at the time.
Daniel Conahan, known as the “Hog Trail Killer” was identified as a person of interest during the ongoing investigation. Conahan has been on death row in Florida since 1999 for a murder he committed in Charlotte County in 1996.
Investigators submitted DNA profiles for each of the eight male skeletons to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. The Database is a national clearinghouse for DNA profiles of missing persons and unidentified dead.
Public Awareness campaigns were also conducted by detectives and families that reported a missing family member submitted DNA samples for examination to the submitted profiles.
Soden is the fourth subject identified, but the investigation will not stop until all eight of the victims are identified and their families are notified.
Police are asking for anyone who may remember Soden to contact the FMPD Cold Case Unit with any information by calling 239-321-8040. Callers can remain anonymous.
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