Police still can't ID skeleton discovered in 2012; bones found with Russian rubles

News-DemocratJanuary 22, 2014 

They have a face but still don't have a name.

Sauget police hope someone might see a face and remember the name, so they sent a skull found in a wooded area more than a year ago to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for facial reconstruction.

The skeleton was found Dec. 3, 2012, by a hunter in a thickly wooded area near a chemical plant and water treatment plant. There were five Russian coins in its pocket.

Investigators didn't know whether the victim was a man or woman, how old it was, or how the person died. They were stumped, said Sauget Police Chief Patrick Delaney.

The body had been there at least two years before it was found. There was little left but bones, some blue sweatpant fabric, the soles of some tennis shoes and those Russian rubles.

Police sent the bones to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. They determined that the remains belonged to a white male between 30 and 50 years old. He was between 5-feet-6-inches and 6-feet-1-inch tall.

"That's a pretty wide range," Delaney said.

The FBI used the skull for facial reconstruction, a science that uses forensic science, anthropology, osteology and anatomy. They put clay over the skull and created a face -- a face police hope may jog someone's memory.

Many of the clues police thought would help them solve the case have created more mystery, such as the manner of the victim's death. The skull had a hole in the back. Police thought the man had been shot, but scientists told investigators they didn't think so, Delaney said.

"I was really surprised by that," Delaney said.

The scientists told investigators the hole could have been caused by a fall or by animals after the man died, Delaney said. But Delaney is talking to other forensic scientists for their opinions.

Then there are the coins.

On the lower part of the body, police found what they believed to be blue seat pants, size extra-large, said Sauget Police Det. Vito Parisi. They didn't find any identification or wallet in the pants, but five Russian coins worth about $3.66 U.S.

"I thought with the rubles that would spike some interest, but no," Delaney said.

Police didn't find any American money, only those five Russian coins.

Sauget police have been in contact with the FBI Russian Task Force based in Chicago and with the Russian community in St. Louis.

"It's been a complete zero," Delaney said.

Investigators didn't find a shirt with the bones. And, at first, police didn't think he was wearing shoes. Officers searching the area later found the partial soles of Adidas tennis shoes, Delaney said, but the size couldn't be determined because too much was missing.

Delaney credited Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigator Abby Keller for pushing to get the remains to the university and the FBI.

Delaney hopes he can figure out who the man is who died in a deep thicket near a wastewater treatment plant maybe as long as three years ago. Tips on the case have dried up, Delaney said, and he hopes a picture could jog someone's memory.

"We have had zero on this case. Nothing at all," Delaney said. "It's really surprising to me."

If anyone has any information regarding the remains found in Sauget, they are asked to call Det. Vito Parisi of the Sauget Police at 618-337-5267.

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