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Mystery remains finally identified

The skeletal remains of a man who shot himself in a wooded area between Oak Harbor and Coupeville about 12 years ago have finally been identified.

Daniel Joseph Macinnis, a former Navy petty officer second class, disappeared from an Oak Harbor home he shared with a roommate around Christmas of 1991. Macinnis, who was 26 years old at the time, was upset that he’d been discharged from the Navy.

Island County Coroner Robert Bishop positively identified the remains as those of Macinnis Oct. 13. He has notified the man’s family members, who live in Minnesota.

“He was a great guy,” Troy Nelson, Macinnis’ former roommate, said.

Nelson helped to make the connection between the remains and Macinnis.

Coroner Bishop said he was ecstatic that Macinnis will finally be laid to rest. He said the mystery has haunted him since a mushroom hunter found a skull and a few scattered bones Nov. 7, 1996, in a woods between Libbey and Sherman roads.

“That’s been bothering me for seven years. I knew all along there had to be a family out there,” he said.

The coroner said the man died from a self-inflicted inter-oral handgun wound.

Bishop has followed many leads in trying to identify the skeleton over the years, but they all went nowhere. He even fielded calls from psychics and folks who claim the woods where the body was found is haunted. The body became affectionately known as “Bob” around the office.

Troy Nelson, who is a Greenbank resident, said the pieces of the mystery started coming together when he was talking to a friend whose wife just happened to have discovered the remains. The woman remembered what clothing was found with the body, which matched Macinnis’ clothing. Nelson said he also knew Macinnis’ abandoned car was found in the same area in 1992.

After mulling over the apparent connection, Nelson contacted the Sheriff’s Office and was referred to the coroner. On Oct. 12, he brought a photo of Macinnis to the coroner’s office.

Bishop explained that he enhanced the photo and was able to match Macinnis’ gum line to the skull’s. Also, the glasses Macinnis was wearing in the photo matched the ones found at the scene.

With this information, Bishop started calling Macinnis families in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. About halfway through the list, he found the parents of Daniel Macinnis. The final identification was made, Bishop said, when the parents told him that Daniel had broken his jaw in a bar fight in Thailand.

The skull’s jaw had been broken and was repaired with metal plates.

Nelson said he last saw his friend and roommate just before Christmas. Macinnis told him he was going to a concert, but he never came back. According to Nelson, Macinnis’ girlfriend at the time tried to report his disappearance to the Sheriff’s Office, but law enforcement wouldn’t make a missing-persons report since the woman wasn’t a family member.

Nelson said Macinnis was an ejection seat specialist with VAQ-141. They went to the first Gulf War together. Macinnis received many ribbons and medals, including a Navy achievement medal.

Bishop said Macinnis spoke to his parents on Christmas Eve before he disappeared. They asked him to come home or at least stay in touch, but he resisted. “He said he didn’t want to have to check in,” Bishop said.

It was the last time anyone heard from Macinnis.

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