Remains identified as missing University of Michigan student


Human remains were found in rural Saginaw County, Michigan, in 2018. They were identified this week as Xin Rong, a 27-year-old doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Screengrab from WJRT

Human remains that were found more than three years ago were recently identified as a missing student from the University of Michigan, local media reported.

Xin Rong, 27, was a doctoral candidate and certified private pilot who was flying a rented Cessna 172 on March 15, 2017, M Live reported. Then, he disappeared.

Rong was flying from Ann Arbor to Harbor Springs, a distance of about 265 miles, when his plane ran out of fuel and crashed in Marathon, Ontario. His body was not found with the wreckage at the time, but he was declared deceased by a Washtenaw County judge in October of that year, M Live reported.

On Sept. 9, 2018, a man discovered possible human remains while checking the cameras on his hunting property, WNEM reported. At the time, it was uncertain how long the remains had been there, and a DNA test didn’t yield any matches.

A detective who was working on the case was told that a lab in Texas, Othram Inc., might be able to help identify the remains. The lab told him that the remains belonged to an Asian man, WNEM said.

Police then searched for cases involving Asian men who had gone missing in Michigan and identified Rong as a person of interest. They then used dental records to confirm that the remains were his, outlets reported.

Rong was a doctoral candidate in the University of Michigan’s School of Information, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Vandana Ravikumar is a McClatchy Real-Time reporter. She grew up in northern Nevada and studied journalism and political science at Arizona State University. Previously, she reported for USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, and Arizona PBS.

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