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December 19, 2012

Investigation moves forward in 1969 murder case


Yesterday, the victim’s remains were taken to the medical examiner’s office to be re-autopsied.

Police already know the cause of death. The victim was shot four times — twice in the head, once in the torso and once in the back of the neck. His body had already started to decompose when a road crew discovered it in a water-filled ditch 43 years ago.

But forensic technology has advanced significantly since then and police hope those technological advances will lead them to the man’s identity.

The re-autopsy yesterday could yield more information about the man — a more exact age, a better sense of his height and weight.

Investigators also hope it will eventually lead to the victim’s DNA being entered into the FBI missing persons database.

That could all take months, Chase said.

“From here, everything slows down,” he said.

After the reautopsy, some remains will be sent to the FBI laboratory, where investigators hope DNA can be extracted, then entered into the nationwide database.

If they’re lucky, a match will be found and the man finally identified.

At the same time, Pratt will begin reconstructing the victim’s face from his skull, ultimately providing police with images of what his likely appearance before his death. Police will distribute those images to the media in hopes a family member or acquaintance recognizes him.

“Obviously, we’re trying to bring closure,” he said.

If and when the victim is identified, he said, detectives would begin to actively work the case.

“We’re waiting for a lead,” Chase said. “Now, we don’t have a lead.”

But if they are able to identify the victim, the 43-year-old case will become a higher priority.

“We can start a full investigation,” Chase said. “With an ID, it pretty much becomes an active homicide investigation.”

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