Police say the unidentified man’s remains were found on May 1, 2022 in Nevada’s Lake Mead
On Wednesday, the Clark County’s Office of Coroner/Medical Examiner and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in a news release that the remains of the man — who investigators believe died from a gunshot wound — were found in a barrel at Hemenway Harbor in Lake Mead on May 1, 2022.
Officials said the FBI's lab in Quantico, Va., created three simulated images of the man’s face based on his remains, and they hope that revealing them to the public may help identify him.
The finding was the first of four sets of human remains found in 2022 in the area amid receding water levels due to a drought. Authorities have since identified three other people:
Thomas Erndt, of Las Vegas, was reported to have drowned on Aug. 2, 2002 at the age of 42. His remains were recovered on May 7, 2022, in the Callville Bay area. The cause and manner of Erndt’s death is undetermined.
Claude Russell Pensinger, of Las Vegas, disappeared on July 14, 1998, at the age of 52. His remains were found by park visitors near the shoreline of Boulder Beach on July 25, Aug. 6 and Aug. 16, 2022. The cause and manner of Pensinger’s death is undetermined.
Donald P. Smith, of North Las Vegas, was 39 at the time of his reported drowning in April 1974. On Oct. 17, 2022, his remains were discovered by contractors doing work near the marina in the Callville Bay area. Two days later, more of his remains were found. Smith’s cause and manner of death was determined to be drowning and accidental.
Now, authorities hope to give the fourth victim a name.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department detectives believe the man shown in the composite images was killed some time in the mid-1970s to early '80s, based on the clothing and footwear he was found with, according to a news release shared last year.
The decades-old barrel is also believed to have originally been about 100 feet underwater and "several hundred" yards from shore, Lt. Spencer told Fox5 Las Vegas in 2022.
"The water level has dropped so much over the last 30 to 40 years that, where the person was located, if a person were to drop the barrel in the water and it sinks, you are never going to find it unless the water level drops," Lt. Spencer previously said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Lake Mead is a reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, bordering Nevada and Arizona. It supplies water to more than 40 million people.
PEOPLE has reached out to the Clark County’s Office of Coroner/Medical Examiner and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
Anyone with any information about the man’s identity is urged to contact the LVMPD Homicide Section at 702-828-3521 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at (702) 385-5555 or at crimestoppersofnv.com.
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