The remains of a homicide victim found in an Ohio suburb nearly 40 years ago were recently identified as long-missing guitarist Frank “Frankie” Little Jr. of The O’Jays through an advanced DNA database.
The Twinsburg Police Department, serving the town about halfway between Cleveland and Akron, made the announcement Tuesday, explaining that in October of this year, the DNA Doe Project provided the names of potential living relatives who were able to provide Frank’s name.
A close relative provided a DNA sample, which was analyzed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crime Lab, police said in their press release. His identity was then confirmed by Dr. Lisa Kohler of the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The partial human remains were recovered on Feb. 18, 1982, in a garbage bag behind a now-closed business on Cannon Road in Twinsburg, Ohio. Investigators at the time knew the remains were that of an African-American male between the ages of 20 and 30, approximately 5 feet, 6 inches tall. And he may have had adolescent kyphosis, a curvature of the spine.
Authorities used DNA and genealogical research to identify the remains of Frank “Frankie” Little Jr., which were found in a garbage bag in a wooded area behind a business in Twinsburg in 1982, said Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler. (Twinsburg Police Department)
His manner of death has been ruled a homicide by Dr. Kohler, police said.
Frank was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, the same city as his last known address. Investigators believe Frank was last alive in the mid-1970s.
“Not much is known about his disappearance and death,” according to the press release. “Our sympathies to the family during this difficult time.”
Twinsburg police Detective Eric Hendershott told WOIO-TV that investigators found distant DNA matches that were from South Carolina and were willing to provide family trees. Though no suspect has been identified, the detective said anyone who knew Frank, especially during the 1970s, and could provide information on who he was living with and who his associates were, are asked to contact police.
In the mid-1960s, Frank was a guitarist and songwriter for the The O’Jays, an American R&B group. He served in the U.S. Army for two years, which included a deployment to Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Frank had a daughter who died in 2012, and he has a son who has not yet been located or identified, police said.
“Frankie was a guitarist and songwriter in the very early O’Jays,” original lead singers Eddie Levert and Walter Williams told Fox News on Wednesday. “He was sentimental, loving and passionate.”
“He came with us when we first ventured out of Cleveland and traveled to Los Angeles, but he also was in love with a woman in Cleveland who he missed so much that he soon returned to Cleveland after a short amount of time,” they added. “That was in the mid-1960s, and we had not heard from him after then. Although this is a tragic ending, we wish his family and friends closure to what appears to be a very sad story.”
Fox News’ Stephanie Nolasco contributed to this report.