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How investigators are working to put names with skeletal remains found across Virginia

Posted at 5:19 PM, Apr 25, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Using human skulls, sometimes just pieces of skull, to come up with what they call facial approximations, the
Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) is working to identify John and Jane Doe's found in and around Central Virginia.

On Tuesday. the OCME shared images of eight men whose remains were found around the region between 1988 and 2020.

“Many of these cases have remained unidentified for decades,” Lara Newell, the long-term unidentified coordinator for OCME, said. “The goal is to get the information and the likenesses out into the public in the hopes that they will be recognized, and eventually identified.”

The FBI creates the images based on CT scans of the found skulls.

"This is very important to the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Medical Examiner," Newell said. "We created a special position just to work these long-term unidentified cases. With over 200 throughout the Commonwealth, there's a need for this kind of work, for this kind of collaboration with law enforcement."

Here are descriptions of the most recent additions to the file. Click on the links provided to see the images:

The skeletal remains of a White male, approximately 39-64 years old, were found in an overgrown area near a pathway in the City of Richmond on July 2, 2020. Cause and manner of death undetermined. The individual is approximately 5’2” to 5’7” in height and had healed fractures to nose, ribs, and shoulder (clavicle). Fractures to the nose would have caused deviation to the left.
NamUs ID: 72826 [namus.gov]

The skeletal remains of a Black male, approximately 33-49 years old, were found in the rear yard of a residential area within the floodplain of the James River in the City of Richmond on March 7, 2016. Cause and manner of death undetermined. The individual is approximately 5’9” to 6’3” in height and had healed fracture of the right knee, may have walked with a limp/locked knee. May have been partially deaf in the left ear due to trauma (healing).
NamUs ID: 14889 [namus.gov]

The skeletal remains of a Hispanic male, approximately 25-35 years old, were found in a wooded area in Highland Springs in Henrico County on January 28, 2014. Cause of death is homicidal violence of undetermined etiology, and the manner is homicide. The individual is approximately 4’8” to 5’3” in height and has had numerous dental restorations.
NamUs ID: 12242 [namus.gov]

The skeletal remains of a Black male, approximately 50-70 years old, were found in an industrial area by construction crews in the City of Richmond on September 26, 2000. Cause and manner of death undetermined. The individual is approximately 5’2” to 5’9” in height and healed rib and lower left leg fractures.
NamUs ID: 6148 [namus.gov]

The skeletal remains of a Black male, approximately 34-68 years old, were found in a residential area in the City of Richmond on October 23, 1995. Cause and manner of death undetermined. The individual is approximately 5’9” in height and had a jaw fracture. NamUs ID: 903 [namus.gov]

The skeletal remains of a White male, approximately 45-65 years old, were found in a wooded area in Brunswick County by a hunter on January 1, 1990. Cause and manner of death are undetermined. The individual had healed facial and abdominal trauma, possibly from a car accident or another traumatic event, 15 years prior to death.
NamUs ID: 6513 [namus.gov]

The skeletal remains of two white Hispanic males were found in a wooded area in Ruther Glen in Caroline County by hunters on November 10, 1988. The older male is approximately 35-45 years old and between 5’5” and 5’9” in height. The younger male is approximately 17-25 years old and is approximately 5’6” in height. DNA indicates a possible parent-child relationship. Cause of death was blunt force injury to the head and the manner is listed as homicide.
NamUs IDs: 6507 [namus.gov] (older) and 6301 [namus.gov] (younger)

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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