Body found inside barrel at a Las Vegas lake may have been there for decades

LVMPD says body may have been there for decades.
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 8:34 AM EDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (KVVU/Gray News) – Police in Las Vegas said a body found in a barrel at Lake Mead over the weekend could have been there for several decades.

A witness said his fiance’s little cousins were around when the remains were discovered. He said it was a scary sight – not something you want young children to see.

“It just so crazy,” Daniel Ruiz told KVVU. “It started out as just a normal day at the lake, and that is just the craziest thing I have seen at Lake Mead.”

Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said officials believe the barrel was left in the lake sometime in the 1980s based on examination and additional evidence they found.

He said the barrel was found roughly 100 feet underwater and several hundred yards from shore.

“Had the water level not receded so far, we never make the discovery,” Spencer said.

While this may be the first time they have discovered remains due to low lake levels, officials said it may not be the last as the levels may continue to drop.

Spencer said they will be reaching out to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas or scientists who can help estimate the duration of the metal and sea life on the barrel.

“The number one goal right now is to try to figure out if we can identify him because it will be a very challenging part of this investigation,” Spencer said.

Police said they started to look through missing cases dating back to the 1980s in an attempt to identify the victim.

“We will look into our missing person cases from that timeframe to see if we could get a lead even prior to the DNA,” Spencer said. “There are some items we recovered that we will look through missing person cases to see if there’s even a potential. Granted it’s a needle in a haystack, but right now we have nothing to go on.”

Spencer said it will take months to know if they will be able to extract DNA to help identify the victim.

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