Sheriff’s office: Man with anchor tied around legs 1 of 2 bodies recovered from Fallen Leaf Lake
The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that two bodies were recovered from Fallen Leaf Lake over the course of the last 2½ months.
The sheriff’s office was aided by Bruce’s Legacy, a nonprofit specializing in search and recovery.
The first body was located on Aug. 29, according to the sheriff’s office. Using an underwater rover to search locations identified by a slide scan sonar, Bruce’s Legacy located the body of an adult female resembling a woman who reportedly drowned in 2001 but was never found.
The body was recovered from the lake and sent to the Sacramento County Coroner for an autopsy. DNA samples were sent to the California Department of Justice Crime Lab for identification. There was no indication of foul play, according to the sheriff’s office, which has not received the results of the DNA testing.
Bruce’s Legacy and the sheriff’s office returned to Fallen Leaf Lake on Oct. 27 to search for another body thought to be in Fallen Leaf Lake — a 21-year-old man who reportedly drowned in the summer of 1996 while boating in the lake.
After several hours of searching, the team located an adult male’s body, according to the sheriff’s office. The body had a rope tied around the lower portion of the legs and a small anchor was tied to the end of the rope.
After recovering the body, it quickly became evident that it did not match the physical description of the young man who drowned in 1996.
“It was apparent that we had located a body that we had not known of, prior to his recovery,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a press release, adding that “the body looked to have been in the lake for many years.”
The body was sent to the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office for a forensic autopsy. DNA samples were sent to the California Department of Justice Crime Lab for possible identification.
The cause and manner of death has not been determined — authorities are unsure if the case is a homicide or suicide. The investigation is ongoing.
Bruce’s Legacy has continued its search for the man missing since 1996 but it has yet to find the body.
Three days before the Wisconsin-based nonprofit discovered the female body in Fallen Leaf Lake, Bruce’s Legacy located the body of Dan Vu Thanh Pham, a 41-year-old San Leandro resident who went missing in June.
His body was found in 245 feet of water off of Rubicon Point north of Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe.
Less than a month before that discovery, Bruce’s Legacy located the body of University of Nevada, Reno football player Marc Ma.
Ma, 20, was presumed to have drowned while paddle boarding with a group of athletes from UNR on June 10, 2016. His body was found on July 31.
The sheriff’s office said it could take several months to determine the identities of the bodies recovered from Fallen Leaf Lake.