TROY TOWNSHIP — Human remains found in late September near Townville have been identified as that of a Venango County man and foul play is not suspected, according to Crawford County Coroner Scott Schell.

The remains found are those of William John Ward, 36, of Seneca following a DNA analysis, according to both Pennsylvania State Police at Corry and Schell. 

Ward was reported missing in June 2017 and was last seen in the area of Steadman Road in Troy Township — about 3 miles east of Townville. The area is where Ward reportedly had gone to hike, state police said.

The remains were found by a hunter around 4:30 p.m. Sept. 29 in a wooded area off Steadman Road, police said.

Members of Mercyhurst University's Forensic Anthropology Department assisted state police and the Crawford County Coroner's Office in recovering the remains.

A DNA sample from the remains recovered were analyzed by NMS Labs of Horsham, whose personnel compared it with a DNA sample from one of Ward’s parents, Schell said.

DNA from the remains and one of the parents were found to be a 99.99993 percent match, Schell told the Tribune on Tuesday.

Foul play is not suspected at this point, Schell said.

"From the remains that were recovered (in September) — which included multiple bones — there were no signs of trauma or injury," Schell said.

The remains are in the custody of the Crawford County Coroner's Office at this time, Schell said.

Additional searches to attempt to find additional remains are planned, Schell said. 

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at

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