New technology could help solve homicide from 1989

by: Kevin McCarty Updated:


PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. - It’s a face that hadn’t been seen in 25 years. Now improved technology could help solve a cold case homicide that has stumped investigators for decades. The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office released a computer generated digital composite Thursday of a man found murdered in 1989.

“My assumption is he has some family out there who’ve been looking for him all this time,” said Pierce County Medical Examiner’s investigator Melissa Baker. “I would love nothing more than to get him identified and give this family the answer to what happened to him.”

The skeletal remains were found on a steep hillside along the Carbon River near Buckley in March of that year. Evidence showed he had been stabbed in the chest. With no identity and no trace of his killer the body was buried as a John Doe.

In March of this year the remains were exhumed from a grave at a Sumner cemetery. Baker said the hope was new technology could help find answers. The man’s skull was put through a computerized tomography or CT scan that provide three dimensional images. Those images were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children where experts in digital reconstruction produced the composite images. A new examination also revealed new information that could help identify the man.

“We now know that there was a birth defect. The decedent had some skeletal abnormalities that may have produced back pain,” said Pierce County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark.

Clark said the man had extensive dental work that may have been done by a military dentist and a unique T-shirt from Bangkok popular with soldiers in the late '80s indicating he may have been in the Army.