She Found a Cousin Presumed Dead for 30 Years — Alive

She Found a Cousin Presumed Dead for 30 Years — Alive

MyHeritage user Minka Kainulainen, 29, of Finland, solved a decades-old mystery thanks to a record she found on MyHeritage: she uncovered the fate of a cousin of her mother’s, believed to have died under unknown circumstances 30 years ago… and to her shock, discovered that he is still alive!

Have you also made an incredible discovery through MyHeritage? Click here to tell us about it!


Minka had to know: what happened to Jari?

Minka dives into the research

Minka started researching her family history on MyHeritage in 2016. There are currently 1259 people in her family tree, and she has several mysteries to solve.

Minka’s mother was born in the 1970s and had never met her cousin — she had only seen pictures of him.

During her research, Minka stumbled across some information about Jari: a record of his arrival in New York.

Jari’s travel record

Jari’s travel record

While searching MyHeritage’s historical data collections, Minka also found information about Jari’s marriage in Florida in 1988.

Jari Pekka Kainulainen and Frances Carol Coniglio/Donley from MyHeritage's Florida, Marriages, 1970–1999 collection

Jari Pekka Kainulainen and Frances Carol Coniglio/Donley from MyHeritage’s Florida, Marriages, 1970–1999 collection


Perhaps the information Minka’s family had been given was not entirely accurate?

Social media helps solve the mystery


Minka sent the woman a message in English asking about her identity, where she got her last name, and if she might know Jari Kainulais.


And then Jari’s daughter gave her incredible news: her father was actually still alive.

Minka told Jari’s daughter that her family had been looking for him for many years. Jari’s uncle had even contacted the creators of a TV program in Finland that helps search for lost family members, but nothing came of it.

“Jari’s daughter was so surprised to hear from me, because she had thought that her father had no relatives in Finland,” says Minka. “It turned out that Jari’s parents had divorced shortly after moving to the Bahamas, and his father had returned to Finland. Jari had heard from his mother that his father had died shortly after his return to Finland, and that there are no other relatives in Finland.”

Minka says that her cousin Jari’s life was turned upside down by the new information. “He is grateful that he has family in Finland and that we have been looking for him,” she says. “My own mother and other relatives are amazed that Jari has been found, because they had believed him to be dead.”

One discovery leads to another

Of course, the discovery has inspired Minka, and now, with the help of a Facebook group and a DNA test, Minka has also found a great-aunt who nobody in her family had known about.


Photo of Minka's great-great-grandfather with inscription on the back

Photo of Minka’s great-great-grandfather with inscription on the back

Many thanks to Minka for sharing her amazing story!

Have you also made an incredible discovery using MyHeritage? We want to hear about it! Send us your story viathis formor email it to us at