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Hitchhiker killed in Bibb County crash identified 60 years later

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 8:16 PM CDT
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BIBB COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - His name was Daniel Paul Armentrout - the answer to a question many folks in Bibb County had for decades. Armentrout was the person total strangers decided to give a proper burial to after he died in an accident while passing through the county.

Crews exhumed Armentrout’s remains from a grave in June 2016 so that a DNA sample could be recovered from his bones to help identify him.

“The people of Bibb County came together at the time in 1961 when the child died and was unidentified. They raised money for the burial, for the marker, for the clothing. They put flowers on the grave. Jim Oakley, who was a reporter for the Centreville Press at the time, followed his story diligently and assisted with raising money to take care of this child and Bibb County pretty much adopted him as their own,” said Bibb County Sheriff Jody Wade.

That’s why Sheriff Wade explained learning his proper identity was important to Armentrout’s family and folks in Bibb County.

“Our current coroner, CW West, was able to retrieve the fragments we had and send them to Identities International and Astria Forensics who then were able to use a new technique,” Sheriff Wade continued.

Armentrout, a hitchhiker passing through Bibb County in 1961, was involved in a car accident that proved fatal for him. The new technique Sheriff Wade described allowed scientists to use Armentrout’s DNA to find his living brother to successfully determine his identity.

“It was a tragedy and everyone thinks of a family member and how they would feel if that person was missing and unknown. Unfortunately, his mother and father passed away before they could get the closure they deserved,” Wade said.

People in Bibb County will next decide on what to put at Armentrout’s grave with his name on it.

Sheriff Wade and the Bibb County Coroner CW West believe they could raise money from the public to do that.

It hasn’t been decided if the original head stone will be changed or if another stone with Armentrout’s name will be added.

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