MD MD - Abingdon, AsianMale 20-30, UP1863, scars, moles/freckles, heavily stained teeth, Jan'87

PastTense

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BEL AIR, MD — Authorities are asking for help identifying a man found dead in a ditch more than 30 years ago in Bel Air. Officials described the victim as an Asian man who was 20 to 30 years old.

When officials found him in a ditch off MD 24 in Bel Air, they said he had been tied up with rope, covered in plastic wrap and shrouded with a bed sheet.

The body was found on Jan. 9, 1987.

According to officials, the victim was 5 feet 7 inches tall and 134 pounds.
Cold Case In Bel Air: Officials Seek Tips About Homicide Victim
asian-man-route-24-bel-air-harford-sheriff___14233226438.jpg
 

iulia

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The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)

349UMMD

349UMMD1.jpg


Date of Discovery: January 9, 1987
Location of Discovery: Abingdon, Harford County, Maryland
Estimated Date of Death: Days prior
State of Remains: Recognizable face
Cause of Death: Homicide by gunshot

Physical Description
Estimated Age: 20-30 years old
Race: Asian
Sex: Male
Height: 5'7"
Weight: 134 lbs.
Hair Color: Black hair, straight, approximately 3 inches in length.
Eye Color: Brown.
Distinguishing Marks/Features: A 1/2 inch scar on upper lip, top of head has 4 old, healed scars. Some moles/freckles on face.

Identifiers
Dentals: Available. All 32 teeth intact with no restoration. Teeth were heavily stained. Possible indication of heavy tobacco use or the Asian practice of ohaguro, which involved staining the teeth black for cosmetic purposes or to prevent cavities.
Fingerprints: Available.
DNA: Available.

Clothing & Personal Items
Clothing: Nylon Izod swim trunks, maroon and white in color, with a blue stripe, with a brown liner.
Jewelry: Unknown
Additional Personal Items: Body found with rope, clear plastic and a tulip design bed sheet

Circumstances of Discovery
The victim was located on route #24, prior to the road opening, lying by the side of the road.

He was tightly bound in fetal position with rope and wrapped in clear plastic, then wrapped in a tulip design bed sheet.

The case has been previously submitted to different Asian papers.
 

b741ma

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Bump

I can't believe this case doesn't have more attention.

I'm guessing the John Doe was a tourist but I still have no idea what he was doing in the Bel-Air/Abingdon area. In the 1980 census Bel-Air only had a population of 7,814 and Abingdon is an unincorporated community. Neither exactly seem like tourist destinations. At first I thought he might've been visiting a bigger city but the nearest metropolitan area to Abingdon is Baltimore just under an hour drive away. And no offense to anyone here who's from Baltimore, but when I think of foreign tourist destinations in the United States, Baltimore doesn't really come to mind (although I could be wrong. If there's some feature in Baltimore which attracts tourists from all over the world then please let me know.) So if he was a tourist, I have no idea how he ended up there.
 

b741ma

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If I had to guess I'd say his country of origin was probably Japan. This is due to a few reasons.

1. If his teeth were really stained by the practice of Ohaguro that would imply he came from Japan. On the Wikipedia page for Ohaguro, the lengthiest section of the article is about the practice in Japan which leads me to believe Japan has the most widespread use of Ohaguro.

2. I compared the Doe's facial features with those of people from the most populous countries in East Asia and as you can see from this photo his features seem to me to share a closer resemblance to those of people from Japan than from China or Korea.
main-qimg-088295edc49dd6e774692dbf88f62979

3. Finally I used something I like to call Forensic History (I'm not sure if that's a real thing or if I made it up) to narrow down his country of origin to Japan. It's more than likely that the decedent was from Japan as at that time Japan was one of the few countries in Asia where foreign travel was widely available for most of its citizens. Most people forget that not too long ago, China and South Korea were some of the poorest countries on earth. Which means that most of their citizens would not have foreign travel available to them. So I'm almost positive the Doe is from Japan.

However there could be some fault with my reasoning. I only compared the facial features of China, Japan, and South Korea and Ohaguro is also practiced in other countries in South East Asia like Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam and Pacific Islands like the Philiphines, Palau, Micronesia, and the Mariana Islands. However I'm still pretty confident his country of origin was Japan for the third reason I listed as I'm pretty sure (don't quote me on this) that most of the countries in South East Asia and the Pacific weren't much better off than China and South Korea at this time.

Any feedback is appreciated.
 

b741ma

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P.S. I also considered he may have been a foreign exchange student but now I consider that unlikely. The closest Institute of Higher Education to Abingdon is a community college which seems weird for a foreign student to attend. Also I think a foreign student going missing in January would've been noticed.
 

PastTense

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by41ma: So what is your thought about "he had been tied up with rope, covered in plastic wrap and shrouded with a bed sheet."? For example perhaps he ran afoul of organized crime in a big city and they drove him out and dumped him in the middle of nowhere.
 

Richard

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Baltimore is a major port city of the eastern United States. Is it possible that this man came to the area as a crew member of a cargo ship?
 

Laughing

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Agree that this gentleman is most likely Japanese, your facial structure information matches my Anthropology coursework, and you're right about the possibility of travel in 1987.

Where's the closest military base?

JMHO YMMV
 

b741ma

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Agree that this gentleman is most likely Japanese, your facial structure information matches my Anthropology coursework, and you're right about the possibility of travel in 1987.

Where's the closest military base?

JMHO YMMV

There's a Maryland Army National Guard in nearby Gunpowder.
 

daikon.radish

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Can I leap in and say that, as a long-term student of and regular visitor to Japan, I can attest that no one does ohaguro now and it hasn’t been a “thing” since well before 1900. It’s well-known of course, but mainly in historical dramas on TV and in movies. Kind of like wearing hoops under your skirt, or a powdered wig.

Stained teeth suggest to me heavy smoking, or possibly medication (my sister has discoloured teeth due to some medication she took as a child, antibiotics? Can’t remember).

In this case I’d be really interested to see the isotopes or DNA information. Despite Japanese claims to be a pure, separate race, there has been considerable intermixing between Japan and Korea over time.

Asian people have been in the US since the 1850s, being involved in gold mining, railway construction and the usual “seeking a better life” that many do when moving to a new country. Is there any evidence that this man was born in Asia, or in Baltimore itself even?
 

mspepper

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Agree that this gentleman is most likely Japanese, your facial structure information matches my Anthropology coursework, and you're right about the possibility of travel in 1987.

Where's the closest military base?

JMHO YMMV
There is an army base prob 10 minutes away. Aberdeen Proving Ground. It has downsized a lot, but in the 1980's it was very busy. This area is right off 1-95, midway between Philly and baltimore.
 

mspepper

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Also want to add for anyone looking at a current map that rt 24 has been reconfigured quite a bit in the last 10 to 15 years. Also at that time there was a considerable amt of spouses coming into the area from Okinawa, Japan, South Korea, Germany and other places. So many in fact that Harford ..not Hartford as in title..county had several specialty food stores for those populations which were not prevelant as they are now.
 

Melt71

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….. no one does ohaguro now and it hasn’t been a “thing” since well before 1900...…..Stained teeth suggest to me heavy smoking, or possibly medication (my sister has discoloured teeth due to some medication she took as a child, antibiotics? Can’t remember).

Just throwing out there that heavy use of betel nut initially stains red but teeth eventually progress to black. The practice is dying out in areas it used to be popular (rural northern Thailand and Laos for example) but still very, very widespread in both urban and rural Myanmar (aka Burma).

The initial sketch looks very Japanese to my untrained eye. But the second recon posted in July 2019 looks to me like NE Burmese, who are taller, lighter-skinned and look more Chinese than their more squat, darker, southern Burmese who look more SE Asian.

Many Burmese migrants live in Maryland.

Just IMO, I lived in Myanmar for 3 years and only left recently.
 

b741ma

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Just throwing out there that heavy use of betel nut initially stains red but teeth eventually progress to black. The practice is dying out in areas it used to be popular (rural northern Thailand and Laos for example) but still very, very widespread in both urban and rural Myanmar (aka Burma).

The initial sketch looks very Japanese to my untrained eye. But the second recon posted in July 2019 looks to me like NE Burmese, who are taller, lighter-skinned and look more Chinese than their more squat, darker, southern Burmese who look more SE Asian.

Many Burmese migrants live in Maryland.

Just IMO, I lived in Myanmar for 3 years and only left recently.

I had no idea that Maryland was home to many Burmese migrants. Do you think he might be one of them?
 

Melt71

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I had no idea that Maryland was home to many Burmese migrants. Do you think he might be one of them?
I think it shouldn't be ruled out. I think the later recon he looks more Chinese than Japanese. China borders Myanmar (Burma) and there are long-used trade links and cross-border marriage. (The border is just a line drawn on a map quite recently.) I would love to see an isotope report, I think it could be quite intriguing.
 

SurrealisticSlumbers

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Asian people have been in the US since the 1850s, being involved in gold mining, railway construction and the usual “seeking a better life” that many do when moving to a new country. Is there any evidence that this man was born in Asia, or in Baltimore itself even?

Thank you for saying this. We shouldn't automatically assume he wasn't from around Harford County just because he's of Asian descent. My brother-in-law is an Asian-American (adopted as an infant from S. Korea). I knew a couple Asian-American kids during my upbringing in Harford, and though the demographics do tend to skew majority white and it isn't a particularly diverse area, there are ethnic minority communities. Back in the '80s they may have kept to themselves more so than today. Many Asian folks in Harford County can be found working in the medical field as well as running their own businesses, i.e. restaurants, delis, dry cleaners, nail salons. They're there, they're just a minority group. (End of rant)

And I'm honestly really glad to see that this case is getting some renewed attention and press coverage; I'd known about this guy for a while now. My personal theory is that this young man was a victim of domestic abuse in his home. If he had some old scars on his head, it could have been from being hit on the head by his family members. It's possible that his family kept a low profile and there weren't people outside the Japanese or Chinese community who really kept tabs on him or would have noticed his absence and reported it.

Quite possible that after he completed high school, the abuse escalated. For many abused kids, school is a reprieve from their toxic home life. I am not trying to stereotype, but males in many traditional Asian families are often expected to remain in the family home well into adulthood, and "leaving the nest" tends to be frowned upon if not actively discouraged. You can be accused of being a bad son. (There's an Indian-American male I know who has unfortunately been emotionally manipulated, from my POV, to be his semi-disabled mother's caretaker, to the exclusion of any outside ambitions in life he may have.)

Being a 20-something year old, this unidentified man was at the age where he could have been testing the waters and trying to spread his wings a bit, be more independent. He may have done something to upset his family members, something that was in their eyes, unforgivable. He may have been shot by the very people who were supposed to love him.
 

Richard

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  • lead-10.jpg


    On Friday, January 9, 1987 the above sketched victim, an unidentified Asian Male was found shot to death along Route 24 in Harford County. He is described as being approximately 20 to 30 years of age, 5'7" in height, and 134 lbs in weight. He was found tied up with rope and wrapped in a bed sheet and plastic wrap.

    Detectives continue the investigation into this crime, however there are currently no suspects in his murder.

    JANUARY 9, 1987

    Do you have information about this case?
    Call us at (410) 838-6600
    -or-
    Submit an anonymous tip at www.p3tips.com

  • LINK: Cold Case Archive - Harford County Sheriff's Office
 
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