COLD CASE: 1994 Sedgwick County murder mystery, unidentified remains case still unsolved
The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office is investigating 18 cold cases. KAKE News wants to showcase a 'Murder Mystery' from 1994 where a man's body was found in a Sedgwick County field. The case is nearly 30 years old and the identity of this man found is still unknown to investigators.
New photos of the evidence have been released to the public in hopes someone will come forward with information to generate new leads.
Detective Chad Graham with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, showed KAKE News the area, west of Hoover on 47th Street South, where the unidentified male’s body was located. The decomposing body was found when a group of Kansas Gas and Electric workers were cleaning up trash in the area and an odor caught their attention. Bones were found shortly afterward.
It’s a patch of land in Sedgwick County that looks much different than it did 30 years ago.
“This was actually 2-lane dirt road and all of the area we are standing in right now was a tree row,” he added.
KAKE News looked through its archives and found video footage from October 29th 1994, when the body was discovered.
“Cases like this can take a great deal of time. It just depends upon what we find,” said Dr. Corrie L. May, Medical Examiner at the time of the discovery, said.
At the time, it was unknown how this man died, whether by the hands of someone else, or of natural causes, but after the investigation was complete, it was clear.
“This is a homicide investigation. There were no natural causes involved in this death,” Detective Graham said. “The hardest part about figuring out these cases, specifically with ‘John Doe’ cases or unidentified bodies, is we don’t know the circumstances surrounding their lifestyle, let alone the circumstances related to their death,” Detective Graham said.
Cold case detectives step in to review cases with no leads. Graham showed KAKE a few items in this particular ‘John Doe’s’ box. It’s an evidence box full of preserved material that he hopes generate fresh ideas.
“You’ve got several factors that weigh on families and victims’ families, so you know hopefully to answer some prayers of some of the family members,” Graham shared.
“We have a DNA profile on our missing ‘John Doe’, however, have not had any hits as of yet. There have been some new developments in new DNA technology and we have sent portions of the body off to see if those can be identified based on the new technology that has come out,” he said. “He was in advanced stages of decomposition… they believe he had been there for 3-4 months.”
The victim was wearing a purple shirt with vertical stripes and khaki shorts.
“Hopefully it will jog somebody's memory as to some clothing that they have (or) of a friend or family member that wore during that time frame and hopefully leading back to a positive victim identification. The emblem is something that was very unique: the Bugle Boy emblem," Detective Graham said.
While a lot rests unknown, here is what investigators do know:
“This gentleman would have been 23-28 years of age. He’s approximately 5’6 to 6 foot and had a slim or medium build. We know that he had auburn or sandy colored hair. As far as any other identifiers, he was white or Hispanic."
Due to the state of this person’s body, it’s been hard to parallel his profile with any familial matches or come up with any other identifiers.
“If you had a friend or an associate that you knew at one time that just suddenly was no longer around,” Graham said. “There has to be a family. There has to be a friend. Somebody knows something within the community. This is too large of a community for there not to be at least one person that knows exactly what happened outside of or from any potential suspects.”
Det. Graham says it would be extraordinary if they are able to identify this unknown person.
“Once we find out the potential identity of the victim in this case, that would open up a lot more in the investigation,” he said. “It will open up associates around that time… family members… It will give us the story of who this individual was and what was happening at the time in this person’s life, which will most likely, lead to identification of motives behind the crime.”
A week after the body was discovered, a report was released to local media. Detective Graham shared with us what stood out to him:
“The remains have been examined by the Sedgwick County Coroner’s Office and the forensic anthropologist. The coroner determined that this case is a homicide and blunt trauma to the head is the cause of death,” he said highlighting a few sentences in the report.
He says all tips are impactful and adds that fresh eyes sometimes yield a different perspective.
“There is no insignificant information. I will read through and look into every single tip that comes in. You never know which tip that comes in might lead to a resolution in these cases.”
Investigators believe the location on 47th and Hoover was just the burial site and not where this man was killed.
If you know anything about this case – you are asked to call Crime Stoppers at (316) 267-2111 or the Sedgwick County Cold Case Hotline number at (316) 660-3799.
You can also submit an anonymous tip. Detective Graham would like to speak with anyone with any information related to this case.
Cold Case Hotline Number: (316) 660-3799
Crime Stoppers: (316) 267-2111
Email: [email protected]