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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local May 28, 2016

9/19/2013 4:09:00 PM
Cottonwood fire victim finally identified via DNA
Hans Gabriel MacBeth
Hans Gabriel MacBeth
File Photo
File Photo

COTTONWOOD -- On Jan. 9, at about 4:22 a.m. Cottonwood Police and Fire personnel were dispatched to 203 S. Candy Lane, the Mountain Terrace Professional Offices, for a fire in a maintenance room near medical offices. The fire was stopped by Cottonwood Fire crew who, an hour after knocking down the blaze, discovered a body lying beneath the heavy debris in the 6-by-12-foot space.

The fire was so extensive that it was not possible to even determine sex of the body initially and investigators were unable to locate any identification. It took another eight months to identify the victim, thought to have been a transient.

Attempts to identify the man were unsuccessful, until members of the Arizona Crime Lab were able to locate a suitable amount of DNA for comparison, which was then submitted for a search using the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). A match was found and the decedent has been identified as Hans Gabriel MacBeth. It is believed the man was about 42 and originally from California.

The exact source of the fire couldn't be located, but Fire Investigators believe it may have been caused by a small improvised fire to keep warm. Temperatures had been very cold during January.

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