A jawbone found at the mouth of the Klamath River has been traced to a Willow Creek boy who was reported missing in 2011.
A DNA match was made last week confirming the bone found by hiking tourists Sept. 11 2011, belonged to Cody E. Conoboy, who was 15 when he was reported missing in January 2011, said sheriff’s Commander Tim Athey.
On Jan. 9, 2011, at around 1 a.m., Conoboy and two other males were reported to be in a stolen vehicle on State Route 96 near Hoopa, according to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.
A sheriff’s deputy spotted the stolen vehicle just as it drove off the shoulder of the highway and rolled several times, the HSO stated.
All three of the occupants fled the vehicle: one jumped down a steep embankment and clung to a tree until he was discovered and another was located walking down the highway, the HSO stated.
Humboldt Search and Rescue and the Hoopa Tribal Police assisted in retrieving the male who was clinging to a tree, Athey said.
Conoboy jumped off a nearby bridge that was 60 feet over the Trinity River, Athey said.
The temperature was below freezing that night and the water temperature was 40 degrees, Athey said.
A search team, including a helicopter, was formed the following morning and spotted a big impression left in the sand near the river, Athey said, adding a shoe belonging to Conoboy was found downriver.
When a jawbone was found nine months later near the mouth of the Klamath, Del Norte Search and Rescue was called out to look for other remains, but to no avail, Athey said.
The jawbone was taken to an archaeologist at the Yurok Tribe to determine whether it had floated from an Indian burial site, and it was originally believed that it had, Athey said.
By law, however, the Sheriff’s Office had to run a DNA test that was performed in Oakland, Athey said.
There was eventually a match to Conoboy that stemmed from a DNA sample taken when he was arrested and booked into a juvenile hall on felony charges before the stolen vehicle incident, Athey said.
Conoboy was on probation for a drug-related offense at the time of his disappearance, Athey said.
His death was ruled a probable drowning by the Del Norte Sheriff’s Office, Athey said.
Because his remains were found in Del Norte County, it is up to this county’s coroner to make a declaration on the cause of death, Athey said.
And as a result, the actual place of death will be considered the mouth of the Klamath River, Athey said.
“It’s how the rules work,” said Athey.