More than 20 years ago, a car crash took the life of a young man. He was identified only as “Grateful Doe” because of the two Grateful Dead ticket stubs found in his pocket after the crash. Two week ago, authorities announced that the man who had been unidentified for the past two decades was finally given a name.
“Grateful Doe” was identified through DNA analysis as Jason Callahan of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He was just 19 years old when he was killed. The driver of the van in which Callahan was a passenger fell asleep at the wheel. Michael Hager, the driver, was killed in the accident but identified. Callahan’s injuries made it impossible to know who he was. His body was never claimed by anyone.
In recent years, the Grateful Doe case took on a life of its own on the Internet. There were several pages dedicated to solving the mystery. It was through one such site that Callahan’s family recognized his photos. According to family members, there were questions surrounding Callahan’s disappearance for years…no one knew that he had died.
Shannon Michelson, Callahan’s half-sister, said that finally knowing what happened to her half-brother was a relief, albeit a sad one. She was one of several family members that submitted DNA to make his identification possible. She had not seen her brother since she was a child, when the pair’s father and Callahan’s mother separated.
Michelson also said that Callahan frequently ran away from home, and that the family assumed he had done the same the day he was killed.
“No one ever thought to report him missing because they thought he wanted to be missing,” Michelson said.