DNA may solve case of missing Daly City man

A leather jacket, a ring and an investigator’s curiosity may have solved a cold case of a Daly City man missing for 16 years.

The body that investigators think may be Daly City resident Hal Balanay, a 31-year-old who went missing several days before Thanksgiving in 1992, was exhumed in Novato by the Marin County Coroner’s Office on Thursday for DNA analysis.

Balanay was last seen near the Cliff House restaurant in San Francisco where he left his motorcycle, according to Marin County Coroner Ken Holmes.

Half ayear later, a fisherman found a body near the Golden Gate Bridge, about two miles north of the Cliff House, Holmes said. Marin County investigators were not able to identify the body, but 15 years later, DNA technology and the Internet is helping them solve the case.

Criminologist Michele Halsing of the California Missing Persons DNA program is comparing the body’s DNA to that of Balanay’s brother.

Holmes explained that the unidentified man was of Asian descent, which matches with Balanay. The body is also dressed in two leather jackets, something that easily may have been the attire of a man riding a motorcycle in November, Holmes said.

The hiccup that didn’t let the investigators solve the case 15 years ago lies in the timing, Holmes said. Investigators excluded Balanay from possible matches to the unidentified body because he was missing for half a year, while the body looked like it was in the water for less than three months.

Holmes’ theory will be confirmed or denied in two weeks, when DNA is analyzed.

“It’s always nice that newer technologies are able to aide us in closing some of these cases and provide some closure for the families, even though it’s not the ideal outcome, the fact that somebody is confirmed deceased,” said Capt. Michael Edwards of the Daly City Police Department.

Balanay is survived by his brother, daughter and former wife.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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