The remains of a Las Vegas man have been identified nearly 23 years after they were found off the coast of Maine.

Philip Kahn

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner announced Wednesday that it confirmed the remains, which were found on July 24, 2000, belonged to 84-year-old Philip Kahn. It is unknown how Kahn ended up in Maine. The medical examiner’s office said he flew from Las Vegas to New York that month.

“We are thrilled that we’ve been able to give him his name and let the family know what happened to their loved one,” said Lindsey Chasteen, administrator for the medical examiner’s office. “They had no idea all these years. He was 84 when he went missing and he’d be 107 now. I can only assume at some point they said, ‘We’ll never know.’ ”

Kahn’s partially skeletonized remains were found by boaters 27 miles off Jonesport, near Grand Manan Bank. He was wearing a blue knit shirt, a pullover and a digital watch. An autopsy showed he had a number of chronic illnesses, including emphysema, cardiac hypertrophy and nephrosclerosis, but a cause of death could not be determined.

Attempts at the time to identify the man using DNA and fingerprints were unsuccessful. The fingerprints were submitted to the FBI, but there were no matches. A DNA sample was uploaded to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index (CODIS). In 2019, the medical examiner’s office tried to ID the man using forensic genealogy, but it still did not lead them to his name or his family.

The office revisited the Jonesport case once again last March when staff met with the FBI’s Deceased Persons Identification Services Division and matched the fingerprints and dental records to Kahn, who had been reported missing in Las Vegas in 2000. Kahn’s next of kin have been notified, according to the medical examiner’s office.


Kahn’s remains were buried in Maine and his family has indicated he will continue to lay at rest here, Chasteen said.

The effort to identify Kahn is an example of the ongoing work to find the names of all 27 people whose unidentified remains have been brought to the medical examiner’s office, Chasteen said. In some cases, all officers have to go on is a single bone.

In the Kahn case, Parabon Nanolabs, a DNA technology company, analyzed the DNA in 2019 and attempted forensic genealogy, which revealed the man was Ashkenazi Jewish, but did not produce any viable leads to identify him. A reconstructed image released at the time of what the man may have looked like bears a striking resemblance to the photo of Kahn released this week by the medical examiner’s office.

Forensic genetic genealogy is a relatively new and rapidly developing practice that has become increasingly common in criminal investigations and older unidentified persons cases. Genetic genealogists use DNA samples to develop a genetic profile and upload it to public databases. Many cases can then be linked or solved because of testing through services like Ancestry and 23 and Me.

The forensic genealogy research was done with assistance from the Jane Doe Project, a California-based nonprofit that also is trying to identify a Victorian-era child whose remains were found in Sanford in 2017. The medical examiner’s office also worked with the Jane Doe Project to successfully identify a man who died in Maine in 2014.

The medical examiner’s office also used forensic genealogy to identify baby Jane Doe of Frenchville, whose 1985 death had gone unsolved for more than 36 years – until Lee Ann Daigle was charged last year with murder in her daughter’s death.


Chasteen said the medical examiner’s office is prioritizing cases involving unidentified remains and is going through records to see if there are usable DNA samples. In older cases, remains may need to be exhumed to extract DNA.

“We’re constantly trying to identify other techniques that might lead to an identification,” Chasteen said.

The office currently is working with the Jane Doe Project to identify “Jane Doe Portland,” whose body was found floating in the ocean just off Portland in 2015. She had not been in the water long, leading investigators to believe that she was from the area or new to the area. Forensic genealogy has indicated she may be Korean, Chasteen said.

She said it is often a long road to get to the point of giving a person their name back, but it’s exhilarating to be able to do so.

“To be able to say this is who he is and notify a family member reminds us why we go down that road and reminds us that you can’t forget about these cases,” Chasteen said. “It might be a long road, but there’s always hope.”

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