KENOSHA -- The Kenosha County Medical Examiner’s Office is turning to cutting-edge technology to identify a man whose body was found alongside a set of railroad tracks in Pleasant Prairie 25 years ago.
"He discovered this person who was along the railroad tracks in a skeletonize state," said Kenosha County Medical Examiner Patrice Hall.
The John Doe body was spotted Aug. 27, 1993, by a photographer walking in the area of the Soo Line – now Canadian Pacific – tracks just north of the Illinois state line. With the body in an advanced state of decomposition, investigators at the time were unable to yield the identity of the man, nor did they turn up any additional leads in the case.
Officials have now enlisted the services of forensic scientists at the Smithsonian Institution. Those experts will use isotopic analysis of one of the man’s teeth to try to learn more about his origins.
"There hasn't been any hits," said Hall.
The renewed effort is so far fruitless, but officials are far from giving up.
"You have to start thinking outside of the box," said Hall. "What else can I do?"
Hall is now getting help from forensic experts at the Smithsonian.
"All they needed was one tooth. So we were able to extract the tooth," said Hall.
The expects say teeth capture a snapshot of where people lived during their youth or teen years. This is established by the water people drink and the food they eat. This service is being provided by the Smithsonian at no charge to Kenosha County.
"We don't know where he was from. He may be from another country," said Hall.
Working with NamUs – the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System – Kenosha County Medical Examiner Patrice Hall is focused on the unique tattoos that were reconstructed as part of the original investigation. A news release indicates Hall consulted with the Kenosha Police Gang Unit and law enforcement in Illinois, seeking information about the significance of the tattoos. She even had one of her deputies take reconstruction images to local tattoo parlors, in search of ideas about the tattoos’ origins.
Though it has been 25 years since the man’s body was found, Hall says her office remains motivated to identify him.
"It's literally a shot in the dark," said Hall.
Kenosha County officials are hopeful the new tests will provide new clues.
"Giving back someone their name is so fulfilling," said Hall.
Investigators know the man had a hole in his skull but it's not known if it was caused by an accident or a homicide.
Test results from the Smithsonian are due back in a few months.
Those with any information about John Doe’s identity or other aspects of the case are urged to contact the Pleasant Prairie Police Department at 262-694-7353 or Kenosha Area Crime Stoppers at 262-656-7333.