CLARKSBURG — A Ritchie County man who was wanted for parole violations in West Virginia since 1989 has been identified as a deceased man in Ohio.
Officials from the U.S. Marshals Service Northern District of West Virginia office in Clarksburg said Tuesday that investigators used DNA matching to test the skeletal remains of John Paul Devaughn was convicted of murder in Ritchie County, West Virginia in May 1983.
Devaughn’s remains were found on April 13, 1988 in a van parked at a junkyard in Portage County, Ohio. Over the last nine years, deputy U.S. Marshals worked to locate Devaughn by conducting numerous interviews, conducting surveillance, and using other investigative techniques.
Deputies believed Devaughn may have died and collected a voluntary DNA sample from a known living relative for comparison in 2015. The sample was submitted to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, a company that provides technology, forensic services, and investigative support to resolve missing person cases. From 2015 through 2020, no unidentified persons matched Devaughn.
On Nov. 13, 2020, the USMS was notified by NamUs of a DNA match to an unidentified body that was found in Ohio in 1988. The remains had been unidentified until a submission from investigators in Ohio matched the DNA sample submitted by the USMS. The match was 92.5 billion times more likely to be Devaughn than another person, according to NamUs.
The remains also had a leather bracelet with the inscription “John” printed on it. The unidentified remains had been buried at a cemetery in Mogadore, Ohio. Devaughn’s family was notified of the identification.
“This case was a true team effort” said U.S. Marshal J.C. Raffety. “The hard work of our deputies, combined with the continued efforts of Portage County, OH authorities, and the forensic technologies utilized by NamUs all were key in bringing closure to this case.”
A number of other law enforcement agencies assisted in the search for Devaughn,including the W.Va. Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, W.Va. State Police, Ritchie County Sheriff’s Department, Fairmont Police Department and Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Devaughn served five years in prison after being convicted for second-degree murder for the Nov. 18, 1982 shooting death of his brother-in-law, Michael Webb. Police said Devaughn shot Webb in the chest with a shotgun after an argument.
Devaughn was released on parole in October 1987, but two years later he absconded from parole supervision and fled the state. The U.S. Marshals Service became involved in the search for Devaughn in January 2011.