DNA Determination Expected Monday in Whydah Remains Case

Artist rendering of Captain Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy of the Whydah pirate ship which sank off the coast of Wellfeet in 1717.

WEST YARMOUTH – The Whydah Pirate Museum is teaming with forensic scientists to determine if remains recently recovered from the shipwreck site belong to its famed captain.

Captain Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy was killed along with members of his crew when the Whydah sank off the coast of Wellfleet in 1717.

A DNA analysis of bones, including a femur, found in a concretion removed from the site over the summer will be compared to DNA from a bloodline descendant of Bellamy located in the United Kingdom.

“What makes it very interesting to us is that the remains were found in an area we believe the captain was stationed when that ship went down,” said Casey Sherman, an investigative journalist and author who found the descendant of Bellamy.

The results of DNA comparison will be announced during a press conference Monday at the Whydah Pirate Museum at 11 a.m.

The shipwreck was discovered by explorer Barry Clifford and his diving crew, which included John F. Kennedy Jr., in 1984 off Wellfleet. Clifford has recovered millions of dollars worth of gold and silver, along with 60 canons and thousands of artifacts from the wreck site. The only authenticated pirate treasure ever discovered is on display at the Whydah Pirate Museum on Route 28 in West Yarmouth.

“It’s the maritime equivalent of King Tut’s Tomb,” Sherman said. “Barry Clifford and his divers have been pulling up rare treasures for well over 30 years and now we believe we have found the Pirate Prince himself.”

Bellamy was listed by Forbes magazine as the most successful pirate who ever lived.

“He accumulated treasure and wealth of $120 million worth of treasure over just a one year period from 1716 to 1717,” Sherman said. “Well beyond his compatriots like Captain Morgan or Black Beard.”

The museum team and Sherman have partnered with Associate Professor Timothy Palmbach, Chair of Forensic Science at the Henry Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science at the University of New Haven.

Palmbach has served 22 years with the Connecticut Department of Public Safety, retiring as a Major in charge of the Division of Scientific Services. His research interests involve the applications and development of new technologies for crime scene analysis and he is actively participating in criminal cases across the country as an expert witness in crime scene reconstruction.

Palmbach’s team of forensic experts are conducting the tests to compare the DNA from the femur to the sample given by the relative of Bellamy.

“The Bellamy story is something I’ve followed since I was a kid,” Sherman said. “And to be able to partner with explorer Barry Clifford and some of the greatest forensic scientists in the world on this project is a dream come true for someone like me,” Sherman said.

If the remains are positively identified as Captain Bellamy, they will be returned to his native England for burial.

“Bellamy has been out at sea now for well over 300 years and it’s our mission to bring that man home,” Sherman said.

If the remains do not turn out to be that of Captain Bellamy they will be a crew member.

“That pirate still deserves a proper burial here on Cape Cod and it would be our mission to do that for that pirate,” Sherman said. “Create a pirate memorial, if you will, somewhere on Cape Cod to honor this man for his historical significance to the Cape.”

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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