A killer took a life and destroyed the identity in the process. Shelby County police struggle to put a face, a name and a history to some human remains found in December of 2010.
County investigators have used dental records and DNA but have not come up with a positive match. The clues are few and the evidence too fragile to transport to another agency that might help.
The holiday season on Dec. 4, 2010, took a ghoulish twist as deer hunters found human remains in the woods off Stewart Road in Lakeland.
"I think it was a complete surprise, when you come out here for a day of recreation and relaxation and run across something like this," said a Shelby county Sheriff's deputy in 2010.
Investigators believe the remains had been dumped there for at a least year, maybe two. The killer probably had help and must have known the roads leading to the wooded area. The victim had been shot in the back of the head.
"The remains were placed in some type of bed spread or comforter, which was wrapped in some type of black plastic, possibly bags or sheet, tied up with rope and then discarded in the wooded area off of Stewart Road," Shelby County Det. Jason Valentine said.
To catch a killer, you first have to know the victim. Police can't identify the remains 2.5 years later other than general characteristics.
"He is probably somewhere between the ages of 18 and 70, and he stands somewhere between 5-foot-7 and 6-feet tall," Det. Valentine said.
Law enforcement websites didn't turn up a positive match, despite searching missing persons reports from Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.
"I think it is someone who not very close to their family, and somebody has not talked to Uncle Johnny for two, three, four or five years, and no one knows that he is missing," Det. Valentine said.
Police believe the victim didn't spend a lot of money based on scraps of clothing found at the scene. Sneakers were bought at Walmart, a cap with a Blue Moon beer logo on it, the victim wore blues jeans.
"Hopefully, there is somebody out there watching is going to say, 'yeah that does sound like somebody I had not talked to,' and give us a call and say, 'is there a possibility it could be my loved one,'" Det. Valentine said.
The one item that have might have helped police was the victim's wallet but no identification was found inside; just a penny.
If you can assist the Shelby County Sheriff you are encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH. The right tip could lead to a reward.
Mid-South Most Wanted Fugitive Profiles: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/category/251082/most-wanted