John Doe found on the side of I-75 nearly 30 years ago identified thanks to new FBI technology

ATLANTA — A man who died nearly 30 years ago has been positively identified thanks to the help of new Federal Bureau of Investigation technology.

On July 20, 1995, Atlanta police found an unidentified man along I-75 with severe injuries from what they believed to be a hit and run.

According to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office, the man was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he died nearly a year later on June 24, 1996.

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After the man’s death, the medical examiner’s office told Channel 2 Action News that they ran his fingerprints in a national database; however, there were no positive results.

Now, thanks to the persistence of the medical examiner’s office and technology from the FBI, officials positively identified the man as Steven Shelton on Sept. 11, 2023, nearly 30 years after his death.

The FBI credited Senior Fulton County Medical Examiner Jimmy Sadler with reaching out to inquire about the changes in crime-solving technology.

“Without him reaching out and saying how about a little more, we wouldn’t necessarily do a deep dive for Fulton County,” Bryan Johnson, FBI Lab official in Quantico, said. “So again, it’s a great team effort and Jimmy’s tenacity to keep going.”

Over the past few months, investigators in Fulton County and the FBI have identified six people using the new technology.


“In this case, we have a new tool that allows us to resize the fingerprints a little to be more accurate how it would have been the size before they perished,” Johnson explained.

Sadler told Channel 2 Action News that one of the oldest cases they have been able to solve dates back to 1970.

“It’s always a rewarding feeling when you can help identify a person,” Sadler said. “We work hard here with their family in mind. We are thankful for the new technology and work of the FBI in Quantico, VA.”

Now, despite a detailed sketch and distinguishing tattoos of a serpent, dragon, and the word “Virgo,” no one has come forward to claim Shelton.

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Investigators now hope someone will come forward soon so Shelton can have a proper burial.

“Some mother sitting on the sofa hoping her person would come home,” Johnson said. “Something of that nature; that’s why we have the drive to do this.”

Anyone with any information regarding Shelton’s family’s whereabouts is encouraged to contact the Fulton County Medical Examiner.