The body found in a barrel at the bottom of Nevada’s drought-affected Lake Mead is that of a man who was shot and killed, police confirmed Tuesday.
Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that based on the shoes that were in the skeletal remains, they believe the murder likely occurred sometime between the mid-1970s and early 1980s.
Boaters on the lake spotted an old rusty barrel on Sunday afternoon. National Park Service rangers attending the area discovered human remains inside.
Spencer said the shoes the man was wearing were sold at Kmart in the mid to late 1970s.
He also told KLAS-TV earlier this week that police are prepared for similar findings in the future.
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“I would say there is a very good chance that as the water level goes down, we will find more human remains,” he said.
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Spencer told CNN the barrel would have been dropped hundreds of feet from shore, likely from a boat, but because the lake has receded so much in that time, that area is now considered shoreline.
Lake Mead and upstream Lake Powell are the largest man-made reservoirs in the US, part of a system that provides water to more than 40 million people, tribes, agriculture and industry in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada , New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and across the southern border in Mexico.
The lake level has dropped so low that the upper intake of Lake Mead became visible last week.
The reservoir on the Colorado River behind the Hoover Dam has been so depleted that Las Vegas is now pumping water from deep within Lake Mead, which also extends into Arizona.
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Shawna Hollister was enjoying a day at the lake when the barrel was discovered.
“We heard a woman scream from the side of the beach and then my husband came over to see clearly what was wrong,” Hollister told KLAS-TV. “And then he realized there was a body there in a barrel.”
Local coroners are working to determine the identity of the man whose body was found.
– With Associated Press archives
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