42-Year-Old Cold Case Solved, Remains Of Wyoming's 'Pipeline Pete' ID'd As Missing Missouri Man

DNA has linked the formerly unidentified remains of a man known only by the nickname "Pipeline Pete" to Jack Clawson, 24, of Missouri, who was discovered in 1982 by pipeline surveyors in the desert near Granger, Wyoming.

Clair McFarland

June 22, 20232 min read

Jack Clawson, 24, has been identified through DNA as the remains of a man found near Granger, Wyoming, in 1982.
Jack Clawson, 24, has been identified through DNA as the remains of a man found near Granger, Wyoming, in 1982. (Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office)

Biologists have linked human remains found 41 years ago near Granger, Wyoming, with a Missouri man who went missing while returning from a hunting trip in 1981, authorities say.

The unknown man, known as “Pipeline Pete" because his remains were found by a pipeline surveying crew, has been identified as Jack Clawson, 24, of Sedalia, Missouri, says a Wednesday statement by the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office.

His remains were found in August 1982 in the remote desert near Granger.

Clawson’s family had reported him missing about a year prior after visiting with him in Fremont, California.

“Clawson was supposed to return home to Missouri for a hunting trip with friends,” the Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office says, “but days later when he never showed up, Clawson’s family reported him missing.”

Neither the pipeline surveyors nor authorities at the time knew whose body they’d found. An autopsy revealed no signs of foul play, and it was believed Clawson likely died months earlier from winter cold exposure.

“The case of ‘Pipeline Pete’ soon grew cold,” the release says.

A Break

In May 2011, sheriff’s detectives and forensic analysts at the Wyoming State Crime Lab submitted biological samples to the University of Northern Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

It was part of an effort to solve a handful of historical cases involving unidentified human remains, the release says, including the infamous Dating Game Killer Rodney Alcala’s victim, 28-year-old Christine Thornton.

The biologists used mitochondrial DNA analysis on the remains, and in March they matched Pipeline Pete's DNA to Clawson.

“A final resolution of this case for Mr. Clawson’s family would not have been possible without the incredible technological advancements in forensic analysis and the outstanding teamwork of everyone,” said Sweetwater County Sheriff John Grossnickle.

He lauded the work of lead detective, Stephanie Cassidy, the University of Wyoming Department of Anthropology, the Wyoming State Crime Lab and the University of Northern Texas Health Science Center.

Clair McFarland can be reached at clair@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter