PITTSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – The body of a murder victim has been identified as an Army veteran missing since 1976.
The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office announced that a partnership with the North Carolina Unidentified Project and Othram Inc. led to the identification of Jimmy Mack Brooks.
In March of 1976, Chatham County deputies opened a homicide investigation after the body of an unidentified man was found in Moncure. The sheriff’s office said a lack of basic information or viable clues made it difficult to make progress in the case early on.
The sheriff’s office said investigator Ricky Culberson connected with the NC Unidentified Project, an initiative was co-founded by Dr. Ann Ross, Director of the NC Human Identification & Forensics Analysis Lab at NC State and Leslie Kaufman, member of the Carolinas Cold Case Coalition, in 2020 to raise and provide funding or assistance with unidentified person cases. Forensic testing is an expensive process. The NC Unidentified Project received a grant to begin funding DNA extraction and analysis on behalf of participating agencies.
The NC Unidentified Project worked with Othram Inc. to build a genealogical profile from skeletal remains. A DNA link ultimately led investigators to a family member of the victim. That family member identified the deceased person as Jimmy Mack Brooks.
Brooks was an unmarried Army veteran. He was only 26 years old when he was killed, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office said.
“It is bittersweet to be able to share this information with his loved ones who never stopped looking for him,” says Lieutenant Sara Pack of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office in a statement. “Although his identity has finally been revealed, there are many more questions to be answered. We will continue to seek justice for Jimmy and his family.”
“I have worked on criminal cases all over the state, but cases involving unidentified bodies really speak to my heart,” explains Kaufman. “These men and women deserve to have their names known and their stories told… That’s what drives me to do what I do.”
Brooks is the seventh victim identified through the NC Unidentified Project as well as the second Chatham County victim to be identified by the group using advanced DNA technology. In April, the sheriff’s office revealed another homicide victim, Alexander “Alex” Brown, Jr., who was reported missing out of Baltimore, MD in December 1978 was also identified.
“Identifying these victims has given us a new launch point and fresh leads to follow,” says Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson. “We are endlessly grateful for all of the hard work and partnerships that led to these amazing revelations. We are hopeful that such technology will lead to similar breakthroughs in other unsolved cases.”
The sheriff’s office is now asking other members of the public to share what they know about Brooks’ life and death. Investigators say any detail could potentially lead to the next big leap in the case. If you have information on Brooks’ disappearance or murder, you are asked to call the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office at 919-542-2911.