13 Unsolved: 18-year-old identified nearly 40 years after murder, thanks to new DNA tech

Courtney Fischer Image
Wednesday, September 7, 2022
1982 murder case reopens after 18-year-old murder victim identified
Investigators learned that a missing person report was not filed for John Glatzel when he was killed nearly 40 years ago, adding to what makes this a mysterious murder.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In July 1982, bones of a young man were found in a field along Schurmier Road in southeast Houston. The man was wearing gray corduroy jeans, a red-brown plaid shirt, and tan cowboy boots. Investigators believe he was in his early 20s but he had no identification on him. Initial reports from the medical examiner concluded the man had likely been strangled.

There were no other clues at the crime scene that helped police move the investigation forward.

There had been no record of a missing person that matched the man's description. The bones were so badly degraded from being outside that the technology at the time wasn't strong enough to develop a reliable DNA profile. With few leads to pursue, the case eventually went cold.

In August 2021, after nearly four decades, investigators decided to take another look. Texas Rangers with the unsolved crime team and Houston police sent the skeletal remains to Othram, a private DNA testing lab in The Woodlands.

Othram scientists developed a DNA profile and sent the science to philanthropist and genealogist Carla Davis and her team. For the past year, genealogists worked to track down the family of the unknown man.

He's been identified as John Howard Glatzel, who would have been 57 years old on Wednesday. It's believed Glatzel was likely around 18 years old when he was murdered in Houston. Houston Police Department detectives tell Eyewitness News the Texas Rangers have been in touch with Glatzel's younger sister, who lives in Indiana.

Now, the question is: who killed John Glatzel?

Investigators say they're having a tough time pinning down exactly when Glatzel disappeared because a missing person report was not filed.

If you recognize him or know something about the case, contact HPD, Texas Crime Stoppers (1-800-252-TIPS), or the Texas Rangers (rangers@dps.texas.gov).