BOULDER, Colo. – New technology is giving Boulder County investigators hope that they can solve a 25-year-old cold case by putting a name to a face and bringing closure for a man known since 1993 only as John Doe.
A hiker set out for a jaunt near Gregory Canyon in Boulder on Nov. 11, 1993 but made it only 167 feet from the road, past a telephone pole, before he found a man's body inside some shrubbery.
Investigators could not identify the man, however, and he was eventually buried in a grave labeled “John Doe – Nov. 1993.”
The man’s death remained a mystery until last year, when Boulder County Coroner’s Office Lead Investigator Laurissa Lampi took the case on with a determination to solve it.
“These cases, they really tug at my heartstrings. I just want to bring these families closure,” Lampi told Denver7. “You know there is someone out there who loves this man or loved this man.”
She says there were few details surrounding the man’s death at the site where he was found in 1993. But after reviewing the case, she discovered that investigators hadn’t done DNA testing on the man and that his remains were not sent anywhere for further investigation.
“It’s hard to say what he was doing up there. … His cause of death remains undetermined,” Lampi said. “There’s no outward trauma. There were no findings in his toxicology testing, so not only do we not know who he is – we don’t know what happened to him at this point.”
The University of South Florida’s body farm that specializes in studying what happens to a body after someone dies was enlisted to help.
Through testing, researchers were able to determine the man was born in the southeastern United States and was likely not a Colorado native. Testing showed he was of European ancestry and likely between 30 and 45 years of age.
The team was able to create a sketch of the man and a reconstruction of the man’s head.
“They’ve created these tangible, visible reconstruction that we can look at,” said Lampi. “And now he has a face. And that’s great. Like I said, maybe someone recognizes him.”
It’s Lampi’s hope that the sketch and bust can help her solve the crime – as the university’s research was able to help do in the case of another woman.
“Anyone anywhere could know this person and they just don’t know it, so we’re hoping that it draws somebody in that recognizes him,” she said.
Lampi hopes that her renewed investigation will lead to someone, somewhere who may have known the mystery man.
“He deserves everything. We deserve to know who he is. He deserves closure and he deserves to go be with his family – wherever that may be.”