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Male Unknown

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Name Other Permit
Male 32407
Last name Plot Permit date
Unknown 262 - Section II 07-07-1997
Age Grave Date of death
30 44 06-23-1997
Burial date Place of death Source code
07-24-1997 Unique Address see comment A1997_07_17_Vol11_060.pdf


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Story added by
Added by Sue Kovacs

Leroy Bernard Matthews has spent the last 20 years as a "John Doe". On the night of June 23, 1997 he was found electrocuted on the third rail on the southbound D train tracks at the 145th St and St. Nicholas Avenue Station in Harlem NY.

Over the years, there were a few advocates that did everything they could to identify Leroy. Amelia from the facebook page Veteran Doe made it her mission to track down his elaborate 1st force Recon, USMC Eagle Globe Anchor (EGA) tattoo that was an exclusive design done by a tattoo shop in Twentynine Palms California done between 1994 and 1996. Unfortunately, they did not keep records of who got what ink done.

Research was done on his tattoo. It possibly indicated both a connection to Force Reconnaissance and Explosive Ordinance Disposal - EOD Company. He likely spent time in Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. 1st Force Recon and EOD were both in Camp Pendleton. Based on his age range his likely dates of service would have been somewhere between 1985 to before June 23, 1997. She figured he was likely very recently separated from the US Marine Corps since he was not on any AWOL lists. 7Th ESB (Engineer Support Battalion), which includes EOD Company, was deployed to Iraq and Somalia. We hope to one day be able to say exactly when his birthday is but until that day, based on his age range his estimated years of birth are from 1967 to 1977. We also hope to be able to update whether his elaborate tattoo was because he was military.

Per the NYC ME's office his fingerprints were checked with the local NYC database, NY State, and the FBI all circa 1997. She and I did what we could to try to get his prints run again after the back log from 9/11. To this day we're not sure exactly how he was identified but we feel that it was due to the new fingerprinting system that uses different points that's recently attributed to a few other cases being solved. We will update his story if we find out more.

Amelia; a military mom, worked very hard to get him media exposure. He was in Harlem World Magazine May 7, 2016; on CBS NY November 11, 2016 and on ABC News, February 28, 2017 due to her efforts. Unfortunately we don't know if any of the media exposure helped to identify him.

We also posted on Facebook, her Veteran Doe and the page I co-own Never Forget Me; multiple times per year as well on the anniversary of his death. There is another advocate that runs a facebook page just for him so he's had exposure on social media, we just don't know if it helped. Veteran Doe had gotten a few great tips thru her page; 2 people thought he was a Marine they served with but they gave another name that could have been mixed up with what we know is Leroy's name.

On January 5, 2018; she noticed his NamUs profile gave a permission error. We knew that meant he was identified. She emailed the ME's office with no reply. I went to his Doe Network page to tell them he was identified, the rep was looking into it with no luck until July 3rd when a guy named Eli posted on Websleuths that the ME emailed him back. So we now know for sure that "our" John Doe has his name back! We're so thankful he was identified before the 21st anniversary of his death.


JULY 3, 2018 per someone that emailed the medical examiner; they received an email from the New York medical examiners office. it states:

Good afternoon,

The decedent in this case has been identified as the below individual— M-97-003611 (ME Case): Matthews, Leroy Bernard

Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
520 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Elaborate custom tattoo done by a tattoo shop in Twentynine Palms California done between 1994 and 1996
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