Mobile users scroll down to find your item

Michael Wayne Canada
Michael Wayne Canada from a photo taken in 2007
August 14, 2023

Investigators have at long last been able to match a face to some gruesome evidence found in Butte-Silver Bow 11 years ago, according to a press release from Sheriff Ed Lester.

Law enforcement, journalists, and citizens have long speculated about the origin of a pair of disembodied legs found near Moulton Reservoir Road north of Butte.. 

The legs came bagged, wearing socks, and shod with Redwing hiking shoes. One of the legs even had a surgically implanted rod, but despite their best efforts, local, state and, national investigators could not identify the legs’ owner. Officials did believe that whoever the legs belonged to was a white male. 

Butte law enforcement then partnered with Montana’s Division of Criminal Investigation to “attempt forensic genetic genealogy” to generate new leads in the cold case, Lester said.

Their effort hit paydirt.

They sent evidence to Othram’s Laboratory in The Woodland’s, Texas. That lab was able to produce a DNA extract that could be tested. Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing was then employed to create a comprehensive DNA profile. An in-house genealogy team at the lab then used the profile to perform genetic genealogy research.

Working together, law enforcement reached out to “possible relatives” of the unknown man, collected reference DNA, and slowly pieced together his probable identity. 

Those tests and further investigation suggested that the mostly missing man was Michael Wayne Canada, age 46. 

More reference DNA testing was done at the Montana State Crime Lab, and the man’s identity was officially determined by Dr. Willy Kemp, a pathologist with the Montana State Forensic Science Division. 

Canada was never reported as a missing person.

He was known to be a drifter, and he had not been in contact with his family for two years prior to his death.

The metal rod was placed in his leg after a serious motorcycle accident. It is believed that he may have been employed at a Safeway store in Butte, Lester's release noted.

Police ask that anyone who had contact with Canada or might know of anyone associated with him to come forward. 

Persons with information may call Captain Jeff Williams at (406) 497-1157. Reference the Michael Wayne Canada homicide investigation, case number MC-13-06-07.