ST. PAUL, Minn. – His life ended inside an abandoned railroad switching shed in Rosemount, a place where investigators found human remains but nothing that would give the man a name.
The unidentified man was discovered in fall of 2014, and in the year and a half that has passed a bevy of tests has failed to shed light on who he is.
He is still only known as his case number, 2014-4917.
So for the first time, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office investigators enlisted the help of an FBI forensic anthropologist, hoping that a facial reconstruction based on the man’s biological markers triggers a memory in someone who sees it, someone who can help bring the case to a close.
The anthropologist took four months to reconstruct the face at the FBI’s Quantico, Virginia laboratory headquarters, using the man’s skull as a starting point and then considering other factors.
“His race, ethnicity, different data points that allow them to recreate the depth of the tissue on the skeleton,” said Shawn Wilson, Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office director of operations in charge of cold cases and unidentified remains.
“It’s fantastic, everything we hoped for and more. Somebody out there is going to recognize that face.
The fact we knew he wore glasses and we were able to put glasses on the face, the hair length was right,” said Wilson. “It may have been the clerk at the local gas station who recognizes this picture, may be a guy who passed him on the street every day. It may be the lead that breaks the case. We don’t know what people know.”
The partially skeletonized remains of the unidentified man were recovered from a decommissioned railroad switching shed near the intersection of 146th Street and Burnley Avenue West in Rosemount on Sept. 29 of 2014.
It appeared the man had been living in the shed at the time of his death, and may have been missing since October of 2013.
A railroad worker made the discovering inspecting the shed before it was slated for demolition.
Rosemount Police canvassed the area near where he was found and investigated potential leads without success.
Hennepin County Medical Examiners completed a full forensic analysis of the remains, including dental charting and DNA and still, no identity.
In 2015, the unidentified man was entered in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) and his DNA profile entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database.
His clothing and personal property were inventoried and photographed in detail to reveal unique characteristics.
The database sharing of all that information did nothing to move the investigation forward.
Wilson also hopes this case motivates families of other missing people to enter data into NAMUS, which is designed to search for matches, where the public can view unidentified remains by US county.
“Our job is to put names to faces and put families back together and right now we have a broken family wanting to know what happened to this person. This guy was part of a community somewhere, somebody is missing him, somebody knew who he was,” said Wilson.
A facial reconstruction done with help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may be the last, best hope in identifying the dead man. It was created using information from his biological profile.
Here is his description:
- White male, approximately 30-50 years old
- Approximately 5’6” tall
- Long brown with grey hair.
- Clothing was size XL and XXL, but belt size 29 inches
- Hoop earring in his left ear
- No distinguishing marks or tattoos were identified
- Evidence of healed nasal bone fractures and arthritis present.
- Wearing a Wilson Leather Open Road motorcycle jacket, metal framed Boardroom Classics eyeglasses
- Carrying knife sheath bearing a hand carved eagle with swords and a confederate flag. Several discernible initials on the sheath include RMK, LLW, DIS, DCS, ME, MJC, PSM, DHT, LLC and JLB.
Anyone who recognizes the person in these images or the description of the property is asked to contact the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office at 612-215-6300.