How a Reddit User Helped Solve a 20-Year-Old Mystery
Family members spotted shared photos of 'Grateful Doe'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2015 2:25 PM CST
An undated photo shows Jason Callahan.   (Facebook)
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(Newser) – For 20 years, he was known as "Grateful Doe." Now, police have confirmed a man killed in a car accident in Greensville County, Va., with two ticket stubs for a Grateful Dead concert in his pocket, was Jason Callahan, a 19-year-old from Myrtle Beach, SC, who'd set off to follow his favorite band around the country. Callahan was riding in a van driven by a 21-year-old in 1995 when it crashed, killing both of them, per CNET. The driver was quickly identified, but Callahan was carrying no identification and his face was left unrecognizable. Police had to rely on artist reconstructions in the hope that someone would identify the man who had a tattoo of a pentagram and was carrying a letter addressed to "Jason." Users on a cold-case site started checking for possible matches in missing persons' reports beginning in 2005, per the Washington Post, but the case was finally cracked open this past January.

An Australian Reddit user started circulating Grateful Doe's reconstructions, which were seen by 500,000 people, including Callahan's former roommate. He "messaged me and stated that he believed he knew the young man in the photo" and had lived with him "in Illinois in late 1994 to early 1995," the user wrote in an Imgur post. The roommate shared photos of Callahan, which were posted to a Facebook group, and Callahan's mom soon confirmed they were of her son, per WMBF. She told authorities she never filed a missing persons report because she didn't know which state her son was last in. His parents figured he was living alone somewhere, says Callahan's half-sister, who submitted DNA to confirm Grateful Doe's identity, per the AP. "Had I not found the post and Reddit pages in January, I would have never known that my brother Jason was still missing, or what happened to him," she adds. (Check out another intriguing mystery that may have finally been solved decades later.)