Cold case investigators have identified human remains found 45 years ago in Washington as belonging to a Standing Rock Sioux tribal member.
Blaine Has Tricks disappeared in 1977 at the age of 38. He had hopped a train with his brother, Clayton "Ross" Has Tricks, to Spokane, Washington, and gone transient in the state, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office. He was last known to be in the Spokane area in February 1977. His brother returned home to North Dakota, but he was never heard from again and was not reported missing.
On Sept. 7, 1977, a bulldozer operator discovered human remains in the Marysville, Washington, landfill. Investigators determined that the refuse in the landfill had come from business dumpsters in downtown Seattle. It's not known how or when Has Tricks ended up in Seattle.
Authorities classified the death as a homicide after an autopsy. The cause of death was undetermined due to trauma to the body from being transported to the landfill, and from the bulldozing processes there.
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The body was buried at the Marysville Cemetery that year. In 2008, Sheriff’s Office Detective Jim Scharf and retired Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ken Cowsert began reexamining old unsolved homicide and unidentified person cases in Snohomish County. The body was exhumed in 2011 and DNA samples taken. Several attempts in ensuing years to match bones or teeth with missing people failed.
In April 2021, Othram Inc. developed a DNA profile that revealed the decedent was predominantly Native American. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office uploaded the Othram DNA profile to GEDmatch and obtained a match at the great-niece level, which allowed the office to work with Native American Genealogist Martha Coleman to build family trees.
Through family history and archived newspaper articles, the Medical Examiner’s Office learned that Blaine Has Tricks was in the Spokane area from 1974 until 1977, after he took a train there.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs obtained DNA from three of Blaine’s relatives. DNA testing of two of them confirmed the identification of Blaine Has Tricks, who was born on May 21, 1939. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Matt Lacy officially identified the remains.
“We are thankful for all of the hard work everyone put into getting Blaine identified," nephew Verle Red Tomahawk said. "Others would have given up a long time ago but you didn't. We appreciate your persistence. The last members of Blaine's family are thankful that he was identified and his remains are being sent home to where he belongs.”
Has Tricks' remains have been returned home to his family in North Dakota. He will be buried at the St. James Catholic Cemetery in Shields.
Anyone with information about his activities in 1977 is asked to contact the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 425-388-3845. For more information on the case, go to https://bit.ly/3Qq4deM.