LACEY, Wash. -- Crews unearthed a 16-year-old mystery at the Woodlawn Funeral Home.
The remains of Richard McCollum that had been in an unmarked grave since 1998 were dug up and cremated Thursday.
"It's what he wanted," said McCollum's brother, David, who last saw his brother in 1995.
The family never filled out a missing persons report. They feared Richard got into drugs and wanted to disappear after getting divorced, and leaving his wife and two children in Tacoma.
"We just kind of lost hope with ever getting in touch with him again," said David McCollum, "Now this is just completely surreal. Every bit of it."
Men walking their dogs found McCollum's body in Tumwater in March of 1998.
He was beaten and burned to death, according to the Thurston County Coroner.
The remains could not be identified until this spring when a cold case detective re-ran the fingerprints.
The prints had not matched any on the national database during searches in 1998 or 2001, but detectives got lucky on the third try.
In 2006, the military added old fingerprint records to the national database.
McCollum, a former soldier, had a file on record with the Army.
While the family always hoped Richard was still alive, it's a relief to finally know what happened to him.
"We do have that closure now, at least that part of it," said David McCollum.
He still wants to find the person who, so far, has gotten away with his big brother's murder.
"I'd like to see him face to face," said David McCollum.