Body to be dug up
December 16, 2003
On April 2, 1989, the body of a man was discovered buried in snow not far from a lift near Heavenly’s Boulder Lodge.
Investigators theorize the man died on the mountain in November 1988 and that snow quickly buried his body.
Cause of death has never been determined and the identity of the man is unknown. But Douglas County sheriff’s investigators plan to exhume the man’s remains from the old Mottsville cemetery in Carson Valley in an effort to determine his identity.
The remains will be shipped to the Louisiana State University Forensic Anthropology Lab. The man’s skull and other bones will be used to create a clay model of his face.
Douglas County investigators solved a similar John Doe case this year after the forensic lab reconstructed the face of Arturo Quirarte, a South Lake Tahoe resident. His remains, along with a baseball cap, were found on the grounds of an estate near Stateline in 1997.
Two of Quirarte’s sisters called Douglas County in August to identify their brother after seeing his clay model in the Tahoe Daily Tribune and on television.
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The unidentified man found at Heavenly more than 14 years ago was buried in several feet of snow. Ski patrol discovered him as animals tried to get at his remains.
He was 30- to 35-years-old, had red or brown hair and wore a down jacket. Investigators were able to produce a solid fingerprint from the man’s remains, but the FBI database and other missing persons searches turned up nothing.
The fact that the man had no fillings or missing teeth made the identification process more difficult.
“If someone has missing teeth, it’s actually easier to identify them as a missing person,” said Douglas County sheriff’s Sgt. Tim Minister. “Dental codes can be entered into the computer.”
Minister said the sheriff’s department already has an $800 federal grant to pay for the forensic work in Louisiana, but Douglas County District Attorney Scott Doyle is researching how the remains of the man can best be transported across country and who will pay for them to be reburied. Doyle was out of the office Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.
By law, transport of the remains is a matter that must be approved by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners. Minister expects Doyle to request approval at a commission meeting early next year.
“We’ve pretty much made the decision to do the exhumation,” Minister said. “We’re relying upon the DA’s office for legal advice. It’s a rare event to exhume a body. I don’t ever recall this county exhuming a body in the last 20 to 25 years.”
– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org