The body police found floating in the Niagara River in 2013 had been in the water so long parts of its limbs were missing and investigators were not able to determine its sex or age when they pulled it ashore.
Now, years later and with the help of a forensic artist from the OPP, Niagara Regional Police are hoping to solve the mystery of how it ended up in the river near Niagara-on-the-Lake.
During a press conference Wednesday, superintendent Brian Ash revealed a 3D bust of a man and a handful of clues investigators believe could help jog someone’s memory and breath new life into the long-suspended case.
“The ancestry was estimated as African with possibly some European,” he said. “The age at death was estimated between 40 and 60 years and the living height was calculated between 5’5″ and 5’11.””
He added the dead man was found to have dental fillings and some discoloration on his teeth which could mean he was a smoker.
Officials still haven’t been able to determine what caused the man’s death, but at this point there’s nothing that specifically points to it being suspicious. By sharing information and photos of the bust, police are hoping to learn more.
Just a ‘likeness’
The image was created using the man’s skull then “building muscle backwards,” according to OPP Forensic Artist Const. Duncan Way.
Tissue depth markers helped him determine how the man’s nose and mouth could have looked and that he might have been a little overweight.
But, he cautioned, the bust isn’t an exact likeness, just an estimation.
“This will not look like a perfect bust that is completely recognizable,” he explained.
“If you find that there’s something familiar about this story and you find the likeness is of someone you believe you may know that you contact Niagara Regional Police so they can follow that up.”
45 bodies in 6 years
Way couldn’t say why investigators only revived the case five years after the body was found, although he did reveal the request that he create a bust came from the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service.
Forensic experts spent much of 2013 running tests on the remains, creating a biological profile for the man and comparing his DNA to missing person’s cases in Canada and the United States, but didn’t get any hits.
It’s believed the body was in the river for at least a year —or possibly longer— before he was found.
Superintendent Ash said the man was found on July 21, 2013 around 4:15 p.m. after police were called to the Niagara Fiver Parkway south of East West Line about a body in the water.
That type of call isn’t uncommon for the service, said Ash. In the past six years, Niagara police have pulled 45 bodies from the river. Five of those bodies remain unidentified.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact police.