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Bones found at Lake Mead could be from same person, authorities say

The Clark County coroner’s office said Tuesday that human remains found at Lake Mead National Recreation Area this weekend might be from the same set of bones discovered 12 days earlier.

“At this time, the investigation into these remains includes working to determine whether the two sets of remains are from the same person or not,” the coroner’s office said.

Grisly discoveries at the lake — which have generated international media attention — started May 1 when a body was found in a barrel in the receding waters at Hemenway Harbor. The coroner’s office said the male died from a gunshot wound, and that the manner of death was homicide.

The bizarre circumstances surrounding the body in the barrel led to rampant speculation that the man was the victim of a mafia hit, though authorities have yet to confirm the circumstances of the man’s death.

Las Vegas police Lt. David Valenta said Tuesday authorities continued to examine missing persons reports from Southern Nevada, many of them from the 1970s when the body was likely dumped, in an effort to solve the mystery of the body in the barrel.

“We are testing and doing all sorts of DNA stuff,” Valenta said. “Old missing person cases. We are looking for familial DNA from multiple (people.) We don’t have anyone positive that we think, ‘This is the person.’ Right now it is a wide net.”

On May 7, a set of skeletal remains were found in the Calville Bay area. Those remains are from a male between the ages of 23 and 38. The cause and manner of death is undetermined.

On July 25, partial remains were found at Swim Beach. Then, on Saturday, more skeletal remains were discovered in the same area, prompting authorities to investigate whether the two sets of bones were linked.

The National Park Service, meanwhile, issued a statement after the July discovery, noting the sets of remains could have ended up in the lake a variety of ways.

“Lake Mead NRA has a storied history in its 90 years as a National Park Unit with a variety of cultural and historical artifacts: from plane crashes and Hoover Dam construction equipment, to Native American artifacts that tell the story of the Southwest,” the Park Service said. “As water levels recede and fluctuate, it is possible that artifacts that we do and don’t know about may emerge; including human remains from previous missing person reports.”

The Park Service said that when Lake Mead was at its highest elevations in the mid-1980s through early 1990s, recovery efforts for bodies may have been unsuccessful because of diving depth limitations for search and rescue teams.

“However, lowering water levels may help to answer old missing person cases and give families some closure,” the Park Service said.

The federal agency went on to say visitors at the lake were prohibited from independently searching for human remains.

“Doing so, or using tools including metal detectors, drones for aerial views, magnet fishing techniques, or manual digging in any NPS unit is illegal and can result in significant fines or other penalties,” the Park Service said.

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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