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Norwalk Police Attempt To Identify Man Found Dead On Shea Island In 1996

Norwalk police are attempting to use DNA to identify a man found dead on Shea Island in 1996.
Norwalk police are attempting to use DNA to identify a man found dead on Shea Island in 1996. Photo Credit: Norwalk Police Department

NORWALK, Conn. -- Norwalk police are seeking the public's help in obtaining DNA that could be useful to identify a man who was found dead on Shea Island in 1996.

The man's body was discovered on the north shore of Shea Island the evening of April 18, 1996 by a husband and wife who were camping on the island, police said. Detectives ferried out to the island and the body was removed to the State Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.

The John Doe was a white male, approximately 5 feet, one inch tall and between the ages of 20 and 30 years old, police said. No dental charting could be completed because several several front teeth were missing postmortem.

The body was discovered at the high water mark mixed in with straw and grass. An autopsy determined that the man had been deceased and exposed to the elements for approximately 8 to 10 month, putting the time frame of his death between June and August 1995, police said. The remains were decomposed and partially skeletonized with no clothing attached. No facial identification was possible.

Police removed nine fingers in an attempt to make identification through fingerprints, though only two fingers exhibited enough ridge detail for identification. Prints were sent to the Latent Print Section of the State of Connecticut Forensic Laboratory in April of 1996 and searched with no identification. Prints were also sent to the FBI Latent Print Section and to the Rockland County Sheriff's Office in 1996 for searches through their systems, with no identification. Another search through the FBI database in 2014 again came up empty.

On Nov. 28 of this year the DNA Section at the State of Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory developed a complete DNA profile from hairs that were collected from the body in 1996. The lab also produced a mtDNA profile that will assist in possible identification, police said. The profiles have been uploaded in the Connection and National Combined DNA Index System databases to search for a possible match.

Police said that since the case is from 1996, the man most likely did not have his own DNA profile on record, since the C.O.D.I.S. was not fully funded and running until 1998.

"In this case and any other missing person case, it is of the utmost important that any families that may have had a family member go missing, report the missing person and provide the investigating police agency with DNA samples for comparison," Norwalk police said, adding that DNA samples from parents and/or siblings are extremely important.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Lt. Weisgerber at 203-854-3164 or AWesisgerber@norwalkct.org. Anonymous information can be left at the Norwalk Police Tip Line at 203-854-3111. Anonymous Internet tips can be sent to Norwalk Police website at: www.norwalkpd.com . Anonymous text tips can be submitted by typing "NPD" into the text field, followed by the message, and sending it to CRIMES (274637).

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