BENSALEM, PA — Two decades after a body was found on the banks of the Delaware River, authorities identified the remains as a New Jersey man who had gone missing around that time.

Two fishermen discovered the body in a drainage area on a freight property in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, in October 2003. That was the last year that Edward Anthony Nece’s family last heard from him.

Last October, investigators spoke with Nece’s father, Edward Nece. The Riverside resident provided a DNA sample, which was compared to the DNA recovered from the remains. A DNA match confirmed that the unidentified person was Nece’s son, police said Monday.

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When Edward Anthony Nece’s body was discovered, he had no identification and his description didn’t match any reports of missing people in the area. An autopsy was performed, and it was determined that there was no trauma to the body and that the cause of death was drowning. The manner of death could not be determined, police said.

Edward Anthony Nece was buried in the Doylestown Cemetary while attempts to identify him continued.

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Partial fingerprints were obtained but did not match any known fingerprints in the national database, and samples for DNA comparison yielded no matches. Bensalem Police compared the unknown man to numerous missing-person reports over the next 19 years without success.

In December 2022, Bensalem Police obtained hair samples from the Bucks County Coroner’s Office that were collected at autopsy. The samples were sent to a private laboratory, which obtained a DNA profile.

Cold Case Initiative, which provides funding for cold-case investigations, got involved and financed an investigative search of public DNA databases by a genealogist. The search and subsequent investigation led investigators to speak with Edward Anthony Nece’s father last October.

“We would like to recognize the diligent effort of Bensalem Township Police Department detectives and the Cold Case Initiative partnership,” Bensalem police said. “Without their assistance, the family of Edward Anthony Nece would still be wondering what happened to their loved one.”

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