Press Release From Isanti County Sheriff's Department:
In August of 2003, unidentifiable skeletal remains were located in the area of Hwy 47 and County Road 5 in Bradford Township. The remains were discovered during an excavation project by a land owner. At the time, Midwest Medical Examiners Office, a forensic anthropologist and forensic odontologist examined the remains. It was believed the body was that of a Caucasian male, 20-28 years old and had been buried from three – 28 years. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension obtained a DNA profile as well as the dental records which were entered into missing person databases. A facial reconstruction was also done.
Over several years, our investigators submitted DNA samples of several people who believed that this was possibly their family member but we never were able to identify the remains.
In 2019, Lovering started the process of using current DNA technology to try to identify the remains. The DNA that the BCA obtained, was submitted to a lab twice over 2019 and 2020 but the sample was not producing a viable sample that could be analyzed by the Investigative Genetic Genealogy Consultant Barbara Rae-Venter. She is be best known for helping solve the Golden State Killer case. We also submitted to another outside lab but were still unable to produce a viable sample.
In 2021, Isanti County Sheriff’s Office was directed by Barbara Rae-Venter to a lab in Texas called Othram. Othram uses a newer technology called Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build DNA profiles from skeletal remains. This is also the same lab that just identified the remains of a missing Stillwater teen, Sherri Ann Jarvis who was found in Texas 41 years ago.
In October, Othram was able to extract a viable DNA sample. Othram built a comprehensive DNA profile and the DNA profile was sent to Investigative Genetic Genealogy Consultant Barbara Rae-Venter and Isanti County Sheriff’s Office. Within 24 hours, she had a match of a distant relative for the skeletal remains we had. From there, she was able to build out a family tree. In November, the sheriff’s office received a name of who the Genealogy Consultant believed was the remains we had. From there Chief Deputy Lovering started searching but could find no information on the name she was given. Based off the family tree, she was able to locate two siblings and a phone number. She called and left a voicemail that she was calling about their brother.
A family member did call back, and confirmed that their brother had been missing since 1970. They were told that the FBI had been looking for him prior to his disappearance due to some involvement with drugs. The sheriff’s office later met with the family and obtained DNA samples from the siblings. These samples were submitted to the BCA to compare to the DNA samples originally obtained in 2003 from the remains.
In December, the BCA sent a report that stated that the genetic results obtained from the human remains are 140 billion times more likely to occur in an individual who is a full biological sibling. The remains were those of a full biological sibling relationship. He was positively identified as Donald Rindahl of Ramsey County.
Based off of the information from the family, as well as the scene in 2003, it is believed that Donald was a victim of homicide but his death has been classified as undetermined. From the timeline of Donald’s disappearance and the crime scene, it is believed that he was buried in Isanti County in late 1970 to early 1971 at the age of 22. It is further believed that there may still be people alive today who know what happened to Donald in 1970. We are asking anyone with any information to contact us or CrimeStoppers of Minnesota.
The Isanti County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank all of our partners in this case who helped us identify Mr Rindahl. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Midwest Medical Examiner’s office, Othram, Firebird Forensics, Inc and Barbara Rae Venter.
Often times law enforcement is the voice for the vulnerable or victims that cannot speak. This was very true in this case. We were able to return a loved one home to their family who did not know his whereabouts for 51 years. The family has requested privacy at this time.
The Isanti County Sheriff's Office has announced they have identified the remains that were buried near Highway 47 and County 5 back in 2003.
During a press conference Wednesday morning, the remains were identified as Ramsey County man Donald Rindahl, who went missing in 1970.
According to Isanti County Chief Deputy Lisa Lovering, law enforcement used a DNA profile to identify Rindahl. Lovering then contacted the victim's family and collect samples to confirm his identity in late 2021.
The sheriff's office says Rindahl's death is still ongoing, and they believe there are still people alive today who can provide information on what happened to Donald in 1970.
Anyone with information about Donald Rindahl's death is asked to call the sheriff's office at 763-689-2141, or CrimeStoppers at 800-222-8477.
This story is still developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.